A radical Islamist who oversaw the destruction of historic mausoleums in the Malian desert city of Timbuktu was found guilty of committing a war crime by an international court Sept. 27, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi pleaded guilty for taking part in the destruction of nine mausoleums and a mosque door, which were in areas occupied by Al-Qaida-linked rebels, in June and July of 2012. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Once in control of the city, the radical faction imposed a strict version of Islamic law that called for the destruction of structures they considered “idolatrous.” The group ran the city for about a year before being driven out by French forces.
Human rights activists worldwide saw Al Mahdi’s conviction as a crucial step to improving Mali and respecting world cultural landmarks.
Irina Bokova, director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, hailed the verdict in a statement, calling it, “a key element in the broader response to violent extremism.”