World Bulletin / News Desk
Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi ordered and participated in the destruction of the mausoleums classified as a world heritage site in Timbuktu, in northern Mali, the judge said during a hearing at the court in The Hague in the Netherlands.
The court added that al-Mahdi "was present at all the attack sites giving instructions and moral support."
Al-Mahdi's trial for the destruction of cultural and historical monuments in northern Mali was the first of its kind to be heard by the ICC.
The court said al-Mahdi's cooperation since his arrest had helped in the case.
"He has been behaving in an irreproachable manner during his detention,” the court added. “He is likely to reintegrate into society."
"The chamber did not find any aggravating circumstances in the case," it added.
Last month, al-Mahdi pleaded guilty at the opening of the case at The Hague.
"I ask for forgiveness and I ask them to consider me as a son who lost his way," he told the court.
He was a member of Ansar Eddine, a movement associated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb ("AQIM"), working closely with the leaders of the two armed groups, according to the ICC.
In a statement, Amnesty International welcomed ICC’s “landmark verdict” against al-Mahdi.
“Today’s International Criminal Court (ICC) conviction of Ahmad Al Faqi Al-Mahdi, a senior member of the Ansar Eddine armed group, must be the first step towards broader accountability for all crimes committed during Mali’s 2012 conflict,” Amnesty International said.
“This verdict is a clear recognition that attacks on religious and historical monuments can destroy the culture and identity of a population and constitute crimes under international law,” said Erica Bussey Amnesty International’s senior legal advisor.