After the Al Mahdi case, a landmark trial, a second case has been referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Timbuktu, Mali between 2012 and 2013. Mr Mahdi intentionally directed attacks against religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu, Mali, in June and July 2012. He was found guilty and now serves a 9-year sentence in prison for committing war crimes.
Another Malian national, 40-year-old Mr Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has been accused of destroying holy places, mausoleums of Muslim saints in Timbuktu and of enforcing a policy of forced marriage which had led to sexual slavery and rape of women and girls. The alleged crimes were committed between 2012 and 2013 when Timbuktu was under the control of militant islamists. From April 2012 until January 2013, Mr Al Hassan was head of the Islamic Police. He was a member of Ansar Eddine, a militant Islamist group which seeks to impose strict Sharia law across Mali. He allegedly participated in the work of the Islamic Court in Timbuktu and allegedly assisted with the execution of its decisions.
The government of Mali referred the situation to the ICC in January 2012. On 16 January 2013 a criminal investigation into the crimes that were allegedly committed in Mali since January 2012 was opened. The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC issued an Article 53(1) Report about the situation in Mali.
According to the report, the situation in 2012 was marked by "two main events". First, the "emergence of a rebellion in the North on or around 17 January, which resulted in Northern Mali being seized by armed groups" and second, "a coup d'état by a military junta on 22 March." Between April 2012 and January 2013.
Mr Al Hassan has been suspected of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Timbuktu, Mali. On 27 March 2018 the Chamber issued an arrest warrant for his arrest. This warrant led to the transfer of Mr Al Hassan to the ICC on 31 March 2018. He has been brought before the single judge of Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC on 4 April 2018 for an initial appearance hearing.
According to Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC, the evidence submitted by the Prosecution offers reasonable grounds to believe that the accused is criminally responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Timbuktu, Mali, between April 2012 and January 2013 under article 25(3)(a) or 25(3)(b) of the Rome Statute:
Crimes against humanity (widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Mali)
- Torture (article 7(1)(f))
- Rape and sexual slavery (article 7(1)(g))
- Persecution (article 7(1)(h))
- Other inhumane acts (article 7(1)(k))
War crimes (armed conflict not of an international nature)
- Torture (article 8(2)(c)(i))
- Outrages upon personal dignity (article 8(2)(c)(ii))
- Passing of sentences without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all judicial guarantees which are generally recognized as indispensable (article 8(2)(c)(iv))
- Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion and historic monuments (article 8(2)(e)(iv)
- Rape and sexual slavery (article 8(2)(e)(vi))
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated on 31 March 2018 that with the arrest and transfer of Mr Al Hassan to the International Criminal Court "a strong message" was sent to everyone "who commit crimes which shock the conscience of humanity " and that her Office "remains steadfast in the pursuit of its mandate under the Rome Statute".
The single Judge of Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC scheduled the beginning of the confirmation of charges hearing for 24 September 2018. During the confirmation of charges hearing it will be determined whether the evidence is of sufficient weight to confirm the charges. The case will be transferred to a Trial Chamber when the charges are confirmed.[number of readers: 1033]
A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection
- Karlsrud, J., "Mali", In: Bellamy, A.J. and T. Dunne (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Responsibility to Protect, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016.
- Harmon, S.A., Terror and insurgency in the Sahara-Sahel region : corruption, contraband, Jihad and the Mali war of 2012-2013, Farnham, Ashgate, 2014.
- Chivvis, C. S., The French war on Al Qa'ida in Africa, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
- Cebada Romero, A., "La violencia sexual en el conflicto de Mali : la mujer como víctima y como protagonista de la lucha contra la impunidad = Sexual Violence in the Malian Conflict : Women as Victims and as Crucial Players for Fighting Impunity= La violence Sexuelle dans le conflit Malien : Les femmes comme victimes et comme des acteurs essentiels pour la lutte contre l'impunité ", In: Anuario Español de Derecho Internacional, Vol. 30 (2014), pp. 47-86
- Badar, M.E. and N. Higgins, "Discussion Interrupted : the Destruction and Protection of Cultural Property under International Law and Islamic Law - the Case of Prosecutor v. Al Mahdi", In: International Criminal Law Review; Vol. 17 (2017), No. 3, pag. 486-516.
- Green Martínez, S.A. "Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Northern Mali : A Crime Against the Humanity?", In: Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 13 (2015), No. 5, pp. 1073-1097.
- Lostal, M., International Cultural Heritage Law in Armed Conflict : Case Studies of Syria, Libya, Mali, The Invasion of Iraq, And the Buddhas of Bamiyan,Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017.
- Lostal, M. (et.al.) "Armed Non-State Actors and Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict", In: International Journal of Cultural Property, Vol. 24 (2017), No. 4, pp. 407-427.
- O'Dell, E. J., Waging War on the Dead: the Necropolitics of Sufi Shrine Destruction in Mali, In: Kleinitz, C. (eds.) (et al.),Global Heritage - Worlds apart? : The Cultural Production, Appropriation and Consumption of Archaeological Heritage Spaces in Northern Africa and the Middle East, New York, Springer, 2013.
- Sterio, M., "Individual Criminal Responsibility for the Destruction of Religious and Historic Buildings: The Al Mahdi Case", In: Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Vol. 49 (2017), No. 1-2, pp. 63-73.
- Schabas, W., "Al Mahdi Has Been Convicted of a Crime He Did Not Commit", In: Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Vol. 49 (2017), No. 1-2, pp. 75-102.