ICC sentences Islamic militant to nine years over Timbuktu destruction

An Islamic militant who helped destroy the fabled shrines of Timbuktu has been sentenced to nine years in prison in a landmark case before the international criminal court.

A three-judge bench at the tribunal in The Hague handed down the sentence on Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi – the first from the institution to focus solely on cultural destruction as a war crime.

Observers hope Mahdi’s prosecution will deter others from destroying cultural sites, an act condemned by UN chief Ban Ki-moon as “tearing at the fabric of societies”.

Mahdi is also the first Islamic extremist to appear before the tribunal.

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