Defense lawyer Melinda Taylor accused International Criminal Court prosecutors of ignoring the claims that her client, Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, was tortured while in custody. She argues that because Al Hassan is a suspect for alleged crimes against a desert city in Mali, Timbuktu, the prosecutors are overlooking his claims. Al Hassan is alleged to have been involved in the torture, rape, and persecution of Timbuktu as a key figure in Ansar Dine, an Islamic extremist group, reports a Washington Post article.
Taylor told judges that “it would appear that in this case they turned a blind eye to allegations of torture simply because the victim was a suspect.” Not only did they neglect that point, but she also accused one of the prosecutors of having a bias. Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou, who is from Benin, spent time in Mali on fact finding missions for the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also pushes for all charges against Al Hassan to go through since her evidence shows Al Hassan a leader in Ansar Dine.
Bensouda explains that Al Hassan “played an essential and undeniable role in the system of persecution established by the armed groups throughout the period of occupation of Timbuktu,” as the de facto chief of the Islamic police. From April 2012 until January of 2013, Timbuktu was occupied and ruled by the Islamic extremist group which has links to al-Qaida.
This would be the second case at the ICC to focus on the occupation of Timbuktu. Ahmad Faqi Al Mahdi, a member of Ansar Dine, is spending nine years in imprisoned for organizing attacks on mausoleums in Timbuktu. Presiding Judge Peter Kovacs has not immediately ruled on the request, according to the Washington Post.