Mali rebel leader gets 9 years for destroying cultural heritage

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On Tuesday the International Criminal Court in The Hague sentenced Malian rebel leader Ahman al-Faqi al-Mahdi to nine years in prison for the destruction of cultural heritage in Timbuktu. The rebel leader confessed, ANP reports. 

In 2012 Al-Mahdi and his followers destroyed nine mausoleums and the door of a 14th century mosque in the Malian city of Timbuktu. "Your Honor, I must admit that what I've heard so far is correct, and the events are correct. I plead guilty", the rebel said in court on August 22nd. He asked forgiveness.

Tauraeg rebels, backed by terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, attacked Timbuktu from Libya in 2012 and implemented Sharia. In doing so a large part of Malian culture, including music, was banned, women had to start wearing a burka and girls were not allowed to attend school anymore.

Al-Mahdi was a member of extremist militia Ansar Dine. He stood at the head of the movement's moral police, which forced Islamic law onto Timbuktu in 2012 and 2013. He was also invovled n the rulings made by the Islamic court in the city.

This was the first time the ICC had to rule on the destruction of cultural heritage. It is considered a war crime and can carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.