International war crimes judges are to rule on Tuesday in the case of a former Islamist rebel who pleaded guilty to wrecking holy shrines during Mali’s 2012 conflict and apologized for the damage he caused in Timbuktu.
It is the first case at the International Criminal Court focusing on cultural destruction as a war crime.
During a two-day trial in August Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi asked for forgiveness and said he had been swept up in an “evil wave” by al Qaeda and the Ansar Dine Islamist groups that briefly seized control of the ancient sites.
As part of a plea agreement the prosecution and the defence requested a sentence of between 9 and 11 years in prison. However, the judges are free to ignore the recommendation and hand down a sentence of up to 30 years, reports Reuters