The ex-head of the Islamic police in Timbuktu was a part of a “reign of terror” within the Malian metropolis in 2012, prosecutors in The Hague say.
Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoude refused to enter a plea to the Worldwide Felony Courtroom (ICC) costs, which embody torture and sexual slavery.
He was a member of an Islamist militant group that imposed strict Islamic legislation.
He’s additionally charged with directing assaults towards historic monuments.
These embody historical manuscripts and buildings devoted to Islam, which the militants thought-about idolatrous.
Mr Al Hassan was handed over to the ICC in 2018 by the Malian authorities – 5 years after French troops helped liberate Timbuktu from the jihadists.
‘Gloveless ladies have been lashed’
He’s accused of being a key member of Ansar Dine, the militants who occupied Timbuktu in Could 2012 – considered one of a number of Islamist teams to use an ethnic Tuareg rebellion on the time to take over cities in northern Mali.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda informed the court docket that Ansar Dine’s management and domination of the town “was complete”.
She described Timbuktu underneath their rule as a spot the place “all the pieces was forbidden”.
Ladies could possibly be punished with lashings on the spot for breaking guidelines reminiscent of not carrying gloves on the market, she mentioned.
Mr Al Hassan is accused of involvement in forcing women and girls to marry militants.
Many Muslim shrines have been additionally destroyed throughout Ansar Dine’s rule, which lasted till January 2013 when 4,000 French troops have been deployed to assist Mali’s military combat again towards the militants who have been pushing south.
Timbuktu is known for its distinctive mud and wooden structure. It was a centre of Islamic studying between the 13th and 17th centuries and was added to the Unesco world heritage checklist in 1988.
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Media captionA Benedictine monk has travelled to Timbuktu to save lots of Islamic texts
However Islamists regard the shrines and the town’s historical manuscripts, overlaying all the pieces from historical past to astronomy, as idolatrous.
Nevertheless, some Muslims, particularly Sufis, regard them as an accepted a part of Muslim worship.
Mr Al Hassan is simply the second individual to face trial on the court docket over his actions in the course of the devastating conflict in Mali.
The opposite man, Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi pleaded responsible in 2016 to destroying 9 mausoleums and a mosque, within the first case of cultural desecration heard by the ICC.
He was jailed for 9 years, after declaring he was “actually sorry” for his actions and asking for forgiveness.
In 2017 ICC judges discovered him accountable for almost €3m (£2.6m; $3,6m) in damages.