Mali shrine attack a ‘war crime’

Mali shrine attack a ‘war crime’

DAKAR - Agence France-Presse

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor warned July 1 militants to stop destroying ancient Islamic shrines in northern Mali’s Timbuktu, saying it amounted to a war crime.

 “My message to those involved in these criminal acts is clear: stop the destruction of the religious buildings now. This is a war crime which my office has authority to fully investigate,” Fatou Bensouda said in an interview. She said that Mali was signatory to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, which states in Article 8 that deliberate attacks against undefended civilian buildings which are not military objectives are a war crime.

“This includes attacks against historical monuments as well as destruction of buildings dedicated to religion,” said Bensouda. Hard-line militants who have occupied the whole of northern Mali, have in two days smashed seven ancient tombs in Timbuktu, a fabled city which dates as far back as the fifth century as a trading center and intellectual capital.

They also destroyed the door of one of Timbuktu’s three ancient mosques. “The Islamists have just destroyed the door to the entrance of the Sidi Yahya mosque (completed 1440) ... they tore the sacred door off which we never open,” said a resident of the town.