Suspect in destruction of Timbuktu mausoleums sent to ICC

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Berlin (dpa) – A suspected Islamist rebel accused of war crimes for the destruction of ancient mausoleums in Timbuktu was handed over to authorities at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands early Saturday.

Ahmad al-Mahdi al-Faqi is alleged to have been a senior member of Ansar Dine, one of two rebel group that overran the city in northern Mali in early 2012, the court said in a statement.

Upon taking control of Timbuktu, members of Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, began smashing revered monuments and religious buildings, some more than 800 years old.

Among those demolished were 14 of the city’s 16 mausoleums, which formed part of Timbuktu’s UN World Heritage Site.

Al-Faqi is accused by The Hague-based court of being complicit in the destruction of 10 buildings, including nine mausoleums and one mosque.

The armed Islamist groups were trying to impose Sharia law on residents and claimed the buildings were monuments to false idols.

He is the first person to be brought before the ICC on charges concerning the destruction of buildings dedicated to religion and historical monuments, the statement said.

An ICC arrest warrant was issued for al-Faqi last week. He was surrendered to the court by authorities in Niger.

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