Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

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FILE - In this Wednesday April 4, 2018, file image, alleged jihadist leader Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud takes his seat in the court room for his initial appearance on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. . (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - An alleged Islamic extremist who went on trial Tuesday on charges that he policed a brutal Islamic regime in Timbuktu after al-Qaida-linked rebels overran the historic Malian desert city in 2012 was a “key figure” in the reign of terror, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said.

In an opening statement, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the extremists who occupied Timbuktu turned life the city known as the “pearl of the desert” into a nightmare, where armed rebels destroyed historic mausoleums and meted out public floggings, amputations, forced marriages and rapes.

The defendant, Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud was “well aware of and indeed involved, as evidence will show, in this cruel and brutal repression,” Bensouda told judges at the court in The Hague.

As the hearing began, one of Al Hassan’s lawyers, Nicoletta Montefusco, argued that he was unfit to stand trial due to post-traumatic stress disorder and “dissociative features that result from severe maltreatment.” Defense lawyers previously told the court that Al Hassan was tortured while in custody in Mali before he was sent to The Hague.

They asked to suspend the proceedings on the eve of the trial because COVID-19 restrictions had prevented them from meeting their client and seeing his mental condition for four months, the defense lawyers said.

Judges declined to halt the trial and called for a medical assessment of Al Hassan, who later said he understood the 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity with which he’s charged but declined to enter pleas.

Al Hassan, who sat in court wearing a face mask and white headscarf, is charged with involvement in crimes including rape, torture, persecution, enforced marriages and sexual slavery committed from April 2012 until the end of January 2013.

Article from: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jul/14/icc-trial-starts-for-alleged-jihadist-crimes-in-ti/