Extremist destroys centuries-old mausoleums in Mali then regrets it

Published August 22nd, 2016 - 09:20 GMT
Sane Chirfi, representing the family that looks after the Alpha Moya mausoleum, poses in front of the recovered monument on February 4, 2016. (AFP/Sébastien Rieussec)
Sane Chirfi, representing the family that looks after the Alpha Moya mausoleum, poses in front of the recovered monument on February 4, 2016. (AFP/Sébastien Rieussec)

An Islamist extremist pleaded guilty on Monday to destroying centuries-old mausoleums in Timbuktu, Mali.

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi told the judges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague that he regretted his actions at the World Heritage Site.

"I am really sorry. I am really remorseful, and I regret all the damage my actions have caused," he said.

Al-Mahdi's case before the court centres on whether, as a leader of the insurgent group Ansar Dine, he was responsible for the destruction of nine mausoleums and the Sidi Yahia mosque in 2012.

By pleading guilty, his trial could wrap up in a week - an unheard of occurrence in the court's history of sluggish, years-long proceedings that have drawn criticism. 

Many of the mausoleums date back to Timbuktu's days of glory in the Middle Ages, when it was one of the greatest centres of learning and trade in the Islamic world.


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