War crimes judges jailed a Malian jihadist Tuesday for nine years for demolishing Timbuktu's fabled shrines, a landmark ruling seen as a warning that destroying mankind's heritage will not go unpunished. In the first such case to focus on cultural destruction as a war crime, the International Criminal Court found Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi guilty of directing attacks on the UNESCO world heritage site during the jihadist takeover of northern Mali in 2012. ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, whose office had asked for between nine and 11 years, said the sentence will signal to perpetrators that destroying cultural heritage is "a serious crime".
Measles has been eradicated from the Americas due to decades of vaccination efforts, making it the first region of the world to rid itself of the disease, global health authorities said Tuesday. "Endemic transmission of measles has been eliminated from the region," said World Health Organization director Margaret Chan. Measles is now the fifth vaccine-preventable disease to be eliminated in the Americas, after smallpox, polio, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, according to a statement from the Pan American Health Organization.
By Stephanie van den Berg THE HAGUE (Reuters) - War crimes judges on Tuesday sentenced a former Islamist rebel who admitted wrecking holy shrines during Mali's 2012 conflict to nine years in prison, in the first such case to focus on destruction of cultural heritage. Human rights groups and international legal experts hope Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi's case in the International Criminal Court may serve as a deterrent to a kind of devastation that continues to be a feature of global conflicts yet has gone largely unpunished. Al-Mahdi expressed remorse for his involvement in the destruction of 10 mausoleums and religious sites in Timbuktu dating from Mali's 14th-century golden age as a trading hub and center of Sufi Islam, a branch of the religion seen as idolatrous by some hardline Muslim groups.