Malian jihadist on trial at ICC over Timbuktu destruction, crimes against humanity
Issued on: 14/07/2020 – 07:51
The trial of a Malian jihadist accused of demolishing Timbuktu'..
The trial of a Malian jihadist accused of demolishing Timbuktu's fabled shrines and unleashing a reign of terror begins at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday.
Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, 42, has been charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, rape and sexual slavery.
The charges cover a period when Islamic fundamentalists exploited an ethnic Tuareg uprising in 2012 to take over cities in Mali's volatile north.
Prosecutors at the tribunal in The Hague will give their opening statement against the man they described in pre-trial hearings as having "terrorised" local residents.
The defence and the legal representatives of alleged victims will deliver their statements at a later date when evidence is presented to the court.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic some participants in the trial will take part remotely, and it was unclear whether Al Hassan would personally be in court.
Jihadists who swept into Timbuktu, dubbed the "Pearl of the Desert", considered the shrines there to be idolatrous and wrecked them with pickaxes and bulldozers.
Built between the fifth and the 12th centuries by Tuareg tribes, Timbuktu has also been dubbed "The City of 333 Saints" who were buried there during the golden age of Islam.
'Essential, undeniable role'
ICC prosecutors said there were "substantial grounds" to convict Al Hassan for "crimes against humanity… torture, rape, sexual slavery (and) other inhumane acts including, inter alia, forced marriages, persecution and war crimes."
"Al Hassan played an essential and undeniable role in the system of persecution established by the armed groups… in Timbuktu," ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said last year.
The jihadist police imposed draconian measures on the city's residents who lived in constant fear of "despicable" violence and repression, prosecutors said.
They cited an example in which a man had his hand amputated after he was accused of petty theft.
Al Hassan isRead More – Source
Illegal Immigrants Building Paris 2024 Olympics Amidst Political and Social Tension
Gaye Sarambounou is used to toiling long days for a pittance. He’s a Malian living in France with no working papers, but it’s a situation that occurs around the world. The difference here is that Sarambounou is one of an army of construction workers preparing next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
Aliku Ogorchukwu: Wife of Nigerian killed in Italy demands justice
The wife of a Nigerian street trader who was killed in Italy has told the BBC she is seeking justice following his “painful death”.
Aliku Ogorchukwu, 39, was reportedly selling handkerchiefs in the seaside town of Civitanova Marche on Friday when he was chased and beaten to death.
A 32-year-old Italian has been arrested on suspicion of murder and robbery.
A video circulating online shows a man on top of Ogorchukwu, punching him with his bare hands.
None of those who witnessed the broad daylight attack appeared to intervene.
“This is a form of wickedness I don’t know,” Ogorchukwu’s wife, Charity Oriachi, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa.
Ms Oriachi said she had received help in coming to terms with her husband’s death but was tired of “talk”. Now, she was only interested in justice, she insisted.
Her family had lived in Italy for a long time, she said, stressing that her husband had never sought any trouble.
The killing has sparked outrage in the local community, including Nigerians, who took to the streets over the weekend and are planning another demonstration soon.
The Nigerian government has asked Italian authorities to quickly “bring the perpetrator of the heinous act” to justice.
Suspect not released
The suspect – a white man named as Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo – has been ordered to remain in jail as the investigation continues.
His defence lawyer told the media the suspect had said he was sorry and that there was “no racial element” involved.
A police investigator said Ogorchukwu was attacked after the trader’s “insistent” requests to the suspect and his partner for spare change.
The partner, identified as Elena D, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Ogorchukwu had touched her arm, but that did not bother her.
Ms Oriachi now wants to see the suspect “face to face”, to understand why he killed her husband, the family’s lawyer told the Associated Press.
Ukrainian widow confronts Russian soldier accused of killing her husband
In the very first days of this invasion a 62-year-old unarmed civilian was shot dead on a village street outside his Ukrainian home. His name was Oleksandr Shelipov.
Three months later and the captured Russian soldier accused of killing him is in Kyiv being tried for a war crime.
Standing up in court to confront the 21-year-old defendant on Thursday was Kateryna Shelipova, the widow of the man killed.
Did he repent his crime, she asked?
The Russian tank commander, Vadim Shishimarin, replied that he admitted his guilt and asked for her forgiveness. “But I understand you won’t be able to forgive me,” he added.
Kateryna Shelipova hadn’t finished. “Tell me please, why did you [Russians] come here? To protect us?” she asked, citing Vladimir Putin’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine.
“Protect us from whom? Did you protect me from my husband, whom you killed?”
The soldier had no answer to that.
This landmark trial marks the first time a Russian serviceman has been put on the stand for war crimes since the invasion of Ukraine was launched in February.
And perhaps such raw encounters are what such trials are about, at least in part. Forcing a soldier – who ignored all the rules of war – to face up to exactly what he has done and the suffering he has caused.
Sgt Shishimarin has pleaded guilty and Ukrainian prosecutors are asking for him to be sentenced to life imprisonment.
On Wednesday, Ms Shelipova told me she actually felt sorry for the soldier, but she could not forgive him for this crime.
She heard the shots that killed her husband, then saw Sgt Shishimarin through her gate – holding his weapon.
Five minutes later she says she saw her husband’s body: “He was dead with a shot in his head. I started screaming very loudly.”
“The loss of my husband is everything for me,” Ms Shelipova said, adding: “He was my protector.”
‘It killed him’
Recalling the events of 28 February, Vadim Shishimarin said he and a small group of other Russian soldiers had become separated from their unit and hijacked a car in order to return to it.
“As we were driving, we saw a man. He was talking on the phone,” the defendant said.
He claimed that he hadn’t wanted to fire the fatal shots, that he was following orders – threatened by another soldier if he refused to do as he was told.
“He said I would be putting us in danger if I didn’t. I shot him at short range. It killed him,” the 21-year-old tank commander told the court.
Interestingly, his defence lawyer – appointed by the state – told me that no Russian official has been in touch with him, including from its defence ministry.
There is no Russian embassy in Kyiv these days, so no contact from there either.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman yesterday told the BBC that the Kremlin has “no information” about this case.
All in all, it feels rather like the young soldier has been abandoned to his fate by the commanders who sent him to war and continue to deny that their forces commit crimes here.
We also heard from a second Russian soldier who witnessed the killing in February and later surrendered to Ukrainian forces.
Ivan Maltysev, another slight and young-looking 21-year-old, told the court how the Russian soldiers spotted Oleksandr Shelipov while they were driving the stolen car.
Mr Maltysev claimed that Vadim Shishimarin was then ordered to shoot the victim because he was on the phone.
“Vadim didn’t do it. So the soldier, whose name I don’t know, turned round in the car and shouted that Vadim had to carry out the order, or we would be informed on.
“At this point, we were almost alongside the civilian and, under pressure, Vadim fired. He fired three or four rounds.”
Ukraine has so far identified more than 11,000 possible war crimes committed by Russia.
Moscow has denied its troops have targeted civilians, but investigators have been collecting evidence of possible war crimes to bring before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
This trial is Ukraine’s chance to prove, beyond doubt, that a Russian soldier killed a civilian with no regard for the rules of war.
Its prosecutors know they are in the spotlight, proceeding so quickly, and in the middle of a war.
That is why they are keen to be as transparent and thorough as possible – so that this is not seen as a show trial, but part of a vital quest for justice.
Australia4 years ago
Button and Diane Powellpark the school bus after three decades
Australia5 years ago
60th Annual Louth Cup 2018 | Photos
Australia5 years ago
A good attendance for planning ahead
Australia5 years ago
Severe, unusual weather likely to cause damage
Australia5 years ago
Ten ways to scrap plastic without breaking the bank
World5 years ago
Know-how: Canadian hospital first to сure patients with virtual reality
World5 years ago
Сhinese navy jets master daring night maneuvers on aircraft carrier (VIDEO)
fun5 years ago
Will Gompertz reviews Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton ★★★★★