Timbuktu’s jihadist police chief guilty of war crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has convicted the former head of the Islamic police in Mali’s historic city of Timbuktu for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors say al-Hassan ag Abdoul Aziz ag Mohamed ag Mahmoud led a “reign of terror” in Timbuktu after it was overrun in 2012 by the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine group.

Hassan, who remained emotionless as the verdict was read out in The Hague, was acquitted on charges linked to rape, sexual slavery and imposing forced marriages on women.

Judges also found he played no role in the destruction of ancient mausoleums in Timbuktu.

Hassan was handed over to the ICC in 2018 by the Malian authorities – five years after French troops helped liberate Timbuktu from the jihadists.

Ansar Dine was one of several Islamist militant groups to exploit an ethnic Tuareg uprising to take over cities in northern Mali.

In his role as police chief, Hassan oversaw punishments such as amputations and floggings against residents of the city.

“Al Hassan has been found guilty by majority decision of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity, for the public flogging of 13 members of the population [of Timbuktu],” judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

“The inhabitants had no other choice but to adapt their lives and lifestyles to conform to the interpretation of Islamic Sharia law… imposed on them by the force of arms,” AFP quoted the judge as saying.

He was also involved in interrogations where torture was used to extract confessions, the judge said. Credit: bbc.com



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