Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, 42, has been charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, rape and sexual slavery. The charges cover a period when Islamic fundamentalists exploited an ethnic Tuareg uprising in 2012 to take over cities in Mali’s volatile north. Prosecutors at the tribunal in The Hague will give their opening statement against the man they described in pre-trial hearings as having “terrorised” local residents. The defence and the legal representatives of alleged victims will deliver their statements at a later date when evidence is presented to the court. Because of the coronavirus pandemic some participants in the trial will take part remotely, and it was unclear whether Al Hassan would personally be in court. Jihadists who swept into Timbuktu, dubbed the “Pearl of the Desert”, considered the shrines there to be idolatrous and wrecked them with pickaxes and bulldozers. Built between the fifth and the 12th centuries by Tuareg tribes, Timbuktu has also been dubbed “The City of 333 Saints” who were buried there during the golden age of Islam.
SOURCE: FRANCE 24