18.08.2017 - Culture Sector

Mausoleums destroyed in Timbuktu: the International Criminal Court holds Ahmad Al Mahdi liable for 2.7 million euros of damage

The judges of Trial Chamber VIII at the hearing held on 17 August 2017 at the headquarters of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands. © ICC-CPI

On August 17, 2017, the International Criminal Court assessed the damages caused by Ahmad Al-Faqi Al Mahdi in June and July 2012 against the Malian cultural heritage of 2.7 million euros (3.2 million dollars). The International Criminal Court sentenced him to 9 years’ imprisonment in September 2016 for committing a war crime by intentionally directing attacks on religious and historical heritage.

After taking into account the observations of experts and amici curiae, including UNESCO, the Court ordered reparation for three categories of harm: damage to the attacked historic and religious buildings (estimated at € 97,000 euros), consequential economic losses (estimated at € 2.12 million) and moral harm (estimated at € 483,000). The reparations shall be collective in order to rehabilitate the sites, but also to respond to the economic and emotional prejudice suffered by the community of Timbuktu during the attacks. Individual reparations were also ordered to remedy the financial losses incurred by individuals whose incomes depended exclusively upon the protected buildings but also for those “whose ancestors’ burial sites were damaged during the attack”. In that regard, the Court stated that, in view of the extent of the damage suffered, individual reparations took precedence over collective reparations. More generally, this reparation will "enable victims to recover their dignity, to deter future violations", but also to initiate a process of reconciliation between the Malian community and the convicted.

Highlighting the fact that the destruction of cultural heritage affects the Malian community and the international community, the Court also ordered the payment of a symbolic euro to the Malian State and UNESCO (as representative of the international community).

As Ahmad al-Faqi Al Mahdi is indigent, the Court encouraged the Trust Funds for Victims (a body established in 2004 which receives voluntary financial contributions) to "complement the reparations award". The Fund has until 16 February 2018 to submit to the Court a draft implementation plan.

For more information:

https://www.icc-cpi.int/CourtRecords/CR2017_05117.PDF (Reparations Order)

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