Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi surrendered to ICC for war crimes against mausoleums and mosques in Timbuktu, Mali

About the author(s):

Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at Utrecht University where she teaches IHL and IHRL. Before joining Utrecht University, she worked at the ICTY, ICC and Norton Rose Fulbright. She is the author of The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) which won the 2018 Lieber Prize. She has written widely about the framework of law that applies to armed groups in non-international armed conflicts and is one of the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.

Today, Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi (Abu Tourab), was surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the authorities of Niger and arrived at the Court’s Detention Centre in the Netherlands. Mr Al Faqi is accused of war crimes committed against religious and historical monuments in Timbuktu, Mali, between about 30 June 2012 and 10 July 2012, when the city was under the control of the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (“AQIM”) and Ansar Eddine, a mainly Tuareg movement associated with AQIM.

Specifically, Mr Al Faqi is accused by the  Prosecutor of having committed, individually and jointly with others, facilitated or otherwise contributed to intentional direct attacks against nine mausoleums and one mosque. According to the Prosecutor, Mr Al Faqi, was actively involved in the occupation of Timbuktu. He was a member of Ansar Eddine, working at the leadership level coordinating operations between the two groups in control of the area. The Prosecutor alleges that, until September 2012, Mr Al Faqi was at the head of the “Hesbah” (“Manners’ Brigade”) which was operational from May 2012. He is also alleged to have been associated with the work of the Islamic Court of Timbuktu and participated in executing its decisions.

The case The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi is the first in the context of the ICC Prosecutor’s investigation regarding the situation in Mali. It is also the first case to be brought before the ICC concerning the destruction of buildings dedicated to religion and historical monuments.

The situation in Mali was referred to the Court by the government of Mali on 13 July 2012. On 16 January 2013, the Prosecutor opened an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Mali since January 2012.

See for previous posts on this blog on the Mali situation:-

Why Mali should immediately sign the 1999 Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. NB: Mali acceded to the Second Protocol on 15 November 2012 utilising the expedited procedure available in times of armed conflict which ensured that it came into force immediately.

The French Intervention in Mali and Additional Protocol II. 

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