Trial judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have ordered the trial of Malian Islamic rebel leader Ahmed al Faqi al Mahdi to start on August 22.
Al Faqi has been charged with a single war crime for completely or partially destroying historic buildings in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu. The charge covers the period June 30, 2012 to July 11, 2012 and nine mausoleums and the door to a mosque that were destroyed during that time.
The judges of Trial Chamber VIII said they chose August 22 to start al Faqi’s trial to allow the parties to make preparations for witnesses they intend to call to testify. The chamber also said in their June 1 decision that they chose the date to allow a defense application that the trial take place after Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims. Ramadan was scheduled to begin on June 6 or June 7, depending on the country, and last 30 days.
Trial Chamber VIII also said they took into consideration the estimate the prosecution and defense gave in their May 19 joint submission that the trial will take only a few days. The reason the trial is expected to take only a few days is because al Faqi told Pre-Trial Chamber I on March 1 he intends to plead guilty. This means the defense will not need much time to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, nor will al Faqi need time to prepare a defense, except when it comes to sentencing.
The chamber said that in order for the trial to take place in a single week they chose August 22 as the trial start date, which is a Monday, so that the trial could conclude by the end of the week. The prosecution and defense had proposed August 25, which is a Thursday, as the trial start date.
The judges also set July 1 as the deadline for all parties to make all disclosures necessary, submit their final witness list as well as the list of evidence they intend to present at trial. July 1 is also the deadline Trial Chamber VIII set for the Registry to confirm all necessary arrangements have been made for the testimony of witnesses.
Another deadline the judges set was July 25, for all applications for people who wish to be registered as victims in the case. They set the same deadline for any motions that need to be resolved before the trial starts.