As announced, the confirmation of charges against Mr Al Mahdi was held at ICC Pre-Trial Chamber on 1st March 2016.
The Pre-Trial Chamber is composed of Judge Joyce Aluoch, Judge Cuno Tarfusser and Judge Péter Kovács.
The hearing began with a statement of the ICC Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, stressing the damages caused to Mali population and worldwide with the occasion of the destruction of Timbuktu sacred places.
Following this statement Mr Gilles Dutertre, First Deputy ICC Prosecutor, presented the charges against Mr Al Mahdi in order to determine whether there were sufficient evidence to believe that he committed the alleged crimes and therefore the case had to be open for trial. Evidence against Mr Al Mahdi seemed to be overwhelming.
After the presentation of charges, Mr Al Mahdi explicitly expressed he wished to plead guilty. He made this statement before ICC Judges and in the presence of his lawyer. That was the first time that an ICC suspect expressed his intention to plead guilty and therefore it is considered a milestone in the history of ICC.
In accordance with Regulation n. 53 of the Court, the Pre-Trial Court delivered its written decision on 24 March 2016. In this decision, the Pre-Trial Court confirmed the charge of war crime brought by the Prosecutor against Mr Al Mahdi.
The case is being referred to a Court´s Trial Chamber. The Judges of that Court will have to decide how to proceed in light of Mr Al Mahdi stated intention to acknowledge guilt.
- See ICC official website re The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi
- See our website, section «The judicial response»
- See our website, previous news (in ES) «Destrucción de templos sagrados y antiguos manuscritos en Tombuctú»