International Criminal Justice Rendered Concerning the Attack Against Timbuktu Mausoleums and Mosque
Journal article by postdoctoral fellow Juan Pablo Perez-Leon Acevedo in the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion Vol. 6(1).
On 27 September 2016, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Trial Chamber VIII convicted Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi of the war crime of attacking protected objects (ICC Statute, Article 8(2)(e)(iv); ‘the war crime’).1 Following a plea agreement, al-Mahdi was convicted of intentionally directing attacks against 10 religious–historical buildings (nine mausoleums and one mosque) in Timbuktu (Mali; ‘the sites’ or ‘the Timbuktu sites’), between 30 June 2012 and 11 July 2012, connected to the non-international armed conflict between state forces and the armed group Ansar Dine (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)-affiliated) to which al-Mahdi belonged. Al-Mahdi was sentenced to nine years imprisonment. The reconstruction of the sites ended in mid-2015. This was the first ICC judgment concerning the above-mentioned war crime. This comment discusses the legal elements of the war crime, focusing on the religious–historic nature of the sites and the religion-related circumstances of the attacks. It also considers the sentencing criteria, focusing on religion-related considerations.