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International Criminal Court/Mali: Reparations Order Issued for Timbuktu Damage

(Aug. 29, 2017) On August 17, 2017, Trial Chamber VIII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a Reparations Order in the case of The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi. (Jaclyn Belczyk, ICC Orders Reparations for Destruction of Timbuktu Shrines, PAPER CHASE (Aug. 17, 2017); Situation in the Republic of Mali in the Case of the Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi: Public Reparations Order (Reparations Order), No. ICC-01/12-01/15 (Aug. 17, 2017), ICC website.) Al Mahdi, said to be a jihadist from Mali, had pleaded guilty before the ICC on August 22, 2016, to the war crime of destroying historical and religious monuments, and reportedly is the first person ever to plead guilty to such a charge at the ICC.  (Constance Johnson, ICC/Mali: First Guilty Plea in War Crimes Case, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Aug. 24, 2016).)

Almost a year ago, on September 27, 2016, the three-judge Chamber VIII had unanimously found Al Mahdi guilty as a co-perpetrator of the war crime of “intentionally directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu, Mali, in June and July 2012.” (Press Release, ICC, Al Mahdi Case: ICC Trial Chamber VIII Issues Reparations Order (Aug. 17, 2017); Situation in the Republic of Mali in the Case of the Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi: Public Sentence and Judgment, No.: ICC-01/12-01/15 (Sept. 27, 2016).) The Chamber sentenced Al Mahdi to nine years of imprisonment, a term to be reduced by the time he has spent in detention since he was arrested following the September 18, 2015, issuance of an ICC warrant.  (Al Mahdi Case: ICC Trial Chamber VIII Issues Reparations Order, supra; Reparations Order, ¶ 1.)

Under the Reparations Order, Al Mahdi is liable for payment of €2.7 million (about US$3.2 million) for individual and collective reparations for the Timbuktu community. Because Al Mahdi is indigent, however, the Trial Chamber urged the Trust Funds for Victims (TFV) to complement the reparations award, directing that body to submit a draft implementation plan to that effect by February 16, 2018.  (Al Mahdi Case: ICC Trial Chamber VIII Issues Reparations Order, supra; Reparations Order, “Disposition.”)  The Assembly of States Parties to the ICC created the TFV in 2004 “to support and implement programmes that address harms resulting from genocide, crimes of humanity and war crimes.”  (Trust Fund for Victims, ICC website (last visited Aug. 22, 2017).)