A Malian Islamist militant who led the 2012 destruction of cultural heritage sites and ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu has pleaded guilty at the International Criminal Court.
Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. His trial for destroying cultural heritage is thought to be the first ever to be prosecuted as war crimes and heard by a tribunal at The Hague.
NPR's Teri Schultz reports:
Al-Mahdi admits he's guilty and is asking for forgiveness for heading-up an al-Qaida-linked group that desecrated most of Timbuktu's 16 historic mausoleums, along with ancient manuscripts and a mosque. Al-Mahdi spoke to the International Criminal Court through an interpreter, [saying,] "I am really sorry, I am really remorseful and I regret all the damage my actions have caused."
It's the first time a defendant has admitted his guilt at the ICC. ... Even though al-Mahdi has pleaded guilty, the trial will last several days as judges will decide how long he should go to prison.