The International Criminal Court will judge the first accused of destroying historical and cultural heritage

The International Criminal Court will judge the first accused of destroying historical and cultural heritage

During this last year we have become used to knowing through the media the destruction of historical and cultural heritage in the Middle East area. These actions that destroy the cultural memory of humanity, it seems that they will not go unpunished or that, at least, they will try to prosecute them in a judicial way.

The International Criminal Court is going to try Achmad Al Madhi Al Faqi, known as Abou Tourab, for the destruction of ancient works of art. Al Faqi is reportedly a member of an Islamist court associated with the Ansar Dine terrorist group in Mali.

He was arrested in Niger and is held responsible for have destroyed in 2013 a dozen historical tombs in Timbuktu, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The local population revered them as sacred, but Ansar Dine, who presents himself as a representative of the movement of defenders of the faith, called them unacceptable superstition.

In March 2013 there was a coup in Mali that has led the country to its worst crisis since independence from France in 1960. Five Islamist rebel groups are currently fighting in the country. Ansar Dine It is made up of Tuareg guerrillas who returned from fighting in Libya under Gaddafi's orders.

When they were entrenched in Tumbuctú They were warned by the United Nations that razing the graves there would be considered a war crime. Last September, the International Criminal Court published an arrest warrant against Abou Tourab for attacks against buildings consecrated to religion and historical monuments, carried out between June 30 and July 10, 2012.

The prosecution has stated that there are reasons to believe that Timbuktu was dominated by armed groups associated with Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb and that Al Faqi was part of the Islamic Court of Timbuktu and participated in the destruction of the buildings mentioned in the arrest warrant.

Among the places attacked are nine mausoleums and the Sidi Yahya Mosque, whose construction was completed in 1440 and, according to legend, its door would be opened on the day of the end of the world.

Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the Court, has described the destruction of irreplaceable monuments as a very serious crime. Some attacks directed against the dignity and identity of the populations of northern Mali, their religious and historical roots.

Ansar Dine means "defenders of the faith" and rejects those places that are sacred to Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. His ideology focuses on imposing Islamic law in Mali and keeping the country in a rigorous theocracy.


Video: ICC to make landmark ruling on Timbuktu destruction