ICC convicts Mali Islamist for Timbuktu war crimes

The International Criminal Court on Wednesday convicted an al Qaeda-linked extremist leader of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Mali, notably for abusing prisoners as the de facto chief of the Islamic police in the historic desert city of Timbuktu.

Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud sat stoically while the decision finding him guilty of torture and cruel treatment between 2012 and 2013 was read out.

Judges continued to read the verdict on the many other charges he faced for his alleged role in a reign of terror insurgents unleashed on Timbuktu, including rape, torture, persecution, enforced marriages and sexual slavery.

Presiding judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua said Al Hassan played a "key role" overseeing amputations and floggings as police chief when Islamic militants seized control of Timbuktu for almost a year from early 2012.

A timetable for his sentencing will be handed down soon.

Dressed in a yellow robe and white headdress, Al Hassan sat impassively throughout the nearly two-hour verdict with arms folded.

Prosecutors say he was a key member of Ansar Dine, an Islamic extremist group with links to al Qaeda that held power in northern Mali at the time.

Al Hassan was also involved in interrogations where torture was used to extract confessions, Mindua said.

Mindua laid out in detail the reign of terror under the militants in Timbuktu, including women being arrested then raped in detention.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

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