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Mali Islamist jailed for nine years for Timbuktu shrine attacks

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The International Criminal Court has sentenced an Islamist militant who destroyed ancient shrines in Timbuktu to nine years in jail.

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi admitted to leading rebel forces who destroyed historic mausoleums at the world heritage site in Mali in 2012.

Judges at the court in The Hague found he had shown “remorse and empathy” for the crime.

It is the first sentence based on cultural destruction as a war crime.

It is also the first time a suspected Islamist militant has stood trial at the ICC.

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi during his trial at the ICC

Mahdi – described as a “religious scholar” in court documents – led rebels who used pickaxes and crowbars to destroy nine of Timbuktu’s mausoleums and the centuries-old door of the city’s Sidi Yahia mosque.

The court found he not only offered “logistical and moral support” for the attacks, but also took part in the physical destruction of at least five out of the 10 buildings.

However, Mahdi had at first advised rebel leaders not to attack the shrines.

Admitting to the charges last month, Mahdi claimed he had been swept up in “an evil wave”.

Pleading guilty, he said: “I am really sorry, I am really remorseful, and I regret all the damage that my actions have caused.

“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,” he added

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PM Abiy reiterates Ethiopia’s decision over latest clampdown.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has finally spoken on ongoing anti-corruption and rights abuse clampdown stating that there was not going to be any backing down let alone retreat.

A statement from the Abiy’s office issued in Amharic tasked citizens to rally behind the development as a means of ridding the country of lawlessness and criminal elements.

State-affiliated FBC reported that the statement titled, ‘Let’s Fight (the) Cancer,’ said the government was bent on bringing people behind injustices to book.



The statement said the underlying objective of recent arrests was to get rid of Ethiopia criminals. “… criminals do not care about ethnicity, country, or morality; they only care for themselves.

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“The key to justice is to create a system for innocent citizens to live in freedom and dignity while criminals are held accountable and punished in accordance with the law,” the statement read in part.

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Since early this week, authorities have announced the arrest of over sixty former military and intelligence officials arrested in connection with rights abuse in prisons and gross corruption in the military run business conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation, MetEC.

A former head of MetEC, Kinfe Dagnew; and a former intelligence chiefs, Tekleberhan Woldearegay and Yared Zerihun have all been detained and put before courts in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Head of security at the state monopoly, Ethio Telecom, Gudeta Olana, has also been arrested as has head of the entity and brother of ex-MetEC boss, Essayas Dagnew.

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New Zealand denies refusing refugees with holiday visas entry.

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Friday, rejected allegations that the country’s government was blocking refugees who wished to travel into the country from Nauru on visitor visas.

Nauru’s president, Baron Waqa, also claimed in an interview with Australian media that he had also personally brokered a deal for New Zealand to accept 80 refugees currently located on the island.



“It’s incorrect to say that there is some kind of agreement for 80 specific individuals to take residence or visit,’’ Ardern told media at the East Asia Summit in Singapore.

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“The request did not ask about whether refugees could visit New Zealand on holiday visas,’’ he added.

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The country assessed all applications for visitor visas on a case-by-case basis. This applies regardless of a person’s country of origin or nationality.

The country is under pressure to transfer the remaining 30 children from the island.

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