Updated at 7 a.m. ET
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has given an Islamist militant nine years in prison for the cultural destruction of the historic city of Timbuktu.
Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi is not only the first Islamist militant to stand trial at the ICC, he is also the first person ever to plead guilty to the charges against him—which he did in August.
“I am really sorry, I am really remorseful, and I regret all the damage that my actions have caused,” Mahdi said at the time. “I would like to give a piece of advice to all Muslims in the world, not to get involved in the same acts I got involved in, because they are not going to lead to any good for humanity.”
It’s statements such as that which resulted in a relatively mild sentence. As we previously reported, Mahdi faced up to 30 years in prison, but his attorneys struck an agreement with the prosecutor’s office for a sentence of between nine and 11 years.
Judge Raul C. Pangalangan, the presiding judge in the case, said the three-judge panel, which ruled unanimously, found five mitigating circumstances in delivering the verdict: “namely your admission of guilt, your cooperation with the prosecution, the remorse and empathy you have expressed for the victims, your initial reluctance to commit the crime and the steps you took to limit the damage caused, and even … your good behavior in detention.”