ICC unseals warrant for Iyad Ag Ghaly on Mali war crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) published an arrest warrant on Friday for Iyad Ag Ghaly, the alleged leader of the Ansar Dine Islamist group that seized control of Timbuktu in northern Mali in 2012.

Ghaly, also known as Abou Fadl, faces accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between January 2012 and January 2013. Although the arrest warrant was issued in 2017, it remained under seal until its public release on Friday.

Ansar Dine, under Ghaly’s leadership, attempted to impose sharia law in Timbuktu. In previous ICC cases involving other Ansar Dine members, prosecutors documented instances of rape and sexual slavery inflicted on women in Timbuktu by the group.

The al Qaeda-linked fighters also used pick-axes, shovels, and hammers to destroy earthen tombs and centuries-old shrines, which were part of Timbuktu’s Sufi heritage, earning it the name “City of 333 Saints.”

In 2016, one Islamist rebel received a nine-year sentence from the ICC after pleading guilty to participating in the destruction of Timbuktu’s religious monuments. Another Malian suspect is set to receive his verdict from the ICC next Wednesday.

The ICC, the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal, has been investigating events in Mali since 2012. French and Malian troops managed to push the rebels back the following year.

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