As ICC trial opens Malian extremist admits guilt to destroying historic sites

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi admitted guilt to the war crime consisting in the destruction of historical and religious monuments in Timbuktu, between around 30 June 2012 and 11 July 2012, the ICC said in a press release, which noted that “this is the first international trial focusing on the destruction of historical and religious monuments, and the first ICC case where the defendant made an admission of guilt.”According to the release, the trial in The Hague, Netherlands, started with the reading of an extract of the confirmed charge against the accused, and the presiding judge asked him to confirm that he understood the charge. Mr. Al Mahdi admitted guilt to the charge.In her presentation, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that the destroyed buildings of immeasurable value, notably the mausoleums of Muslim saints, were a major part of the historic heritage of the ancient city of Timbuktu.“They were also more generally a part of the heritage of Mali, of Africa and of the world. All, except one, were inscribed on the World Heritage List,” she said.“These buildings were deliberately destroyed by Mr. Al Mahdi and his co-perpetrators before the very eyes of the people of Timbuktu, who looked on powerlessly,” she continued. Mr. Al Mahdi, a member of Ansar Dine, was directly involved in the entities established by the armed groups Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Ansar Dine during the occupation of Timbuktu in 2012, the Prosecutor said.“Today’s trial is indeed historic,” she stressed, noting that “it is all the more historic in view of the destructive rage that marks our times, in which humanity’s common heritage is subject to repeated and planned ravages by individuals and groups whose goal is to eradicate any representation of a world that differs from theirs by eliminating the physical manifestations that are at the heart of communities.”Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the landmark case and commended the Court for bringing the significant issue to the forefront of efforts to ensure international justice and accountability, his spokesperson said in a statement.“It draws our attention to an increasingly worrying trend of deliberate destruction of cultural heritage in situations of armed conflict,” said the statement, which also noted that “such attacks represent a callous assault on the dignity and identity of entire populations and their religious and historical roots.”The Secretary-General “strongly condemns” all such acts, and call on all concerned to ensure perpetrators are held accountable, the statement said.The judges will pronounce a decision and a possible sentence after further proceedings. read more

From time to time we screw up Sky News reporter on picking

first_imgSource: Sky News via London’s News Videos/YouTubeTHE SKY NEWS reporter who picked up luggage at the MH17 crash site has apologised for the incident, saying that he ‘screwed up’.Veteran reporter Colin Brazier has written in the Guardian of how he was overcome with emotion during the report.“During that lunchtime broadcast I stood above a pile of belongings, pointing to items strewn across the ground,” he explained. “Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a pink drinking flask. It looked familiar. My six-year-old daughter, Kitty, has one just like it.“I bent down and, what my Twitter critics cannot hear – because of the sound quality of internet replays of the broadcast – is that I had lost it. It is a cardinal sin of broadcasting, in my book anyway, to start blubbing on-air. He said that he wasn’t “thinking clearly” and that he “got things wrong”.Brazier was broadcast live on Sky News picking up items of luggage at the crash scene.However, he immediately stopped himself and apologised on air, with the station issuing a separate apology later that day.In today’s piece, he described the scene as “like the set of a horror story… a butcher’s yard”.“As I type I can smell the nauseating scent of death that clings to me still,” he wrote. “I have seen burned bodies before… but nothing on this scale.”He said that “understanding the boundaries of decency and taste” are principles of good journalism, but “from time to time, we screw up”.The incident has since gone viral, with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube while Braizer was subjected to a torrent of abuse on social media.Latest: Separatists hand over MH17 black boxes, but Australia says there is a “cover-up” >Read: Irish-born woman among those killed in MH17 crash >last_img read more