Didier Reynders welcomes the International Criminal Court’s decision on the destruction of cultural property in Mali

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders joins UNESCO and the Malian government in welcoming the decision taken on 27 September 2016 by the International Criminal Court. In its decision, the court considers A. Al Faqi Al Mahdi, former jihadist member of Ansar Dine, guilty of war crimes consisting of destructing religious and historic buildings in the city of Timbuktu. These monuments were declared World Heritage Sites.
The accused was sentenced to 9 years in prison. He cooperated with the Court from the beginning of his trial and pleaded guilty.
This case is the first in the context of the Office of the Prosecutor’s investigation regarding the situation in Mali, deferred to the International Criminal Court by the Malian Government on 13 July 2012. It is also the first case of the International Criminal Court regarding the destruction of cultural property. This decision creates a new jurisprudence which highlights the gravity of crimes against cultural and religious heritage.