The war crimes trial of the former head of the Islamic police in the Malian city of Timbuktu has started at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud headed the Islamic police when it was under the control of Islamist militants for seven months in 2012.
He has been charged in The Hague with war crimes, crimes against humanity, rape and sexual slavery.
Women and girls were allegedly forced to marry militants.
The Islamic police commanders are also believed to have ordered the destruction of historic monuments and buildings dedicated to Islam, which they considered idolatrous.
Mr Al Hassan was handed over to the ICC in 2018 by the Malian authorities.
Prosecutors accuse him of being a key member of Ansar Dine, the militants who occupied Timbuktu in May 2012 – one of several Islamist groups to exploit an ethnic Tuareg uprising at the time to take over cities in northern Mali.
They imposed strict Islamic rule in Timbuktu – prosecutors at pre-trial hearings said Mr Al Hassan had “terrorised”…