Today, 18 April 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to postpone the commencement of the confirmation hearing in the case The Prosecutor v. Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud to 8 July 2019, instead of 6 May 2019.
According to a press release issued by the ICC, this new date corresponds to a necessary adjustment, justified by procedural issues.
The release adds: "A Single Judge of the ICC designated to carry out the functions of the Chamber in this case, Péter Kovács, noted that the Chamber had to take into account the time required for the Prosecutor to update the document containing the charges in light of the latest decisions issued by the Single Judge concerning the Prosecutor's requests and thus set the date of filing of the French version of the document containing the charges to 8 May 2019"
The statement adds that since this document must be filed 60 days before the hearing, the commencement of the confirmation of charges hearing was therefore postponed to 8 July 2019.
"The purpose of the confirmation of charges hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the person committed each of the crimes charged. If the charges are confirmed, in full or in part, the case will be transferred to a Trial Chamber, which will conduct the subsequent phase of the proceedings: the trial," the report concludes.
Mr Al Hassan was transferred to the ICC on 31 March 2018 following a warrant of arrest issued by the Chamber on 27 March 2018 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He made his first appearance before the ICC on 4 April 2018 and is currently in ICC custody.
According to the warrant of arrest, Mr Al Hassan, a Malian national born on 19 September 1977 in the community of Hangabera, about 10 kilometres north of Goundam in the region of Timbuktu, Mali, and belonging to the Tuareg/Tamasheq tribe Kel Ansar, was a member of Ansar Eddine and de facto chief of Islamic police. He is also alleged to have been involved in the work of the Islamic court in Timbuktu and to have participated in executing its decisions. Mr Al Hassan is further alleged to have taken part in the destruction of the mausoleums of Muslim saints in Timbuktu using Islamic police forces in the field, and to have participated in the policy of forced marriages which victimized the female inhabitants of Timbuktu and led to repeated rapes and the sexual enslavement of women and girls.
The Chamber issued the warrant of arrest, finding that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Al Hassan is criminally responsible under article 25(3)(a) or 25(3)(b) of the Rome Statute for crimes against humanity (torture, rape and sexual slavery; persecution of the inhabitants of Timbuktu on religious and gender grounds; and other inhumane acts) and for war crimes (rape and sexual slavery; violence to person and outrages upon personal dignity; attacks intentionally directed against buildings dedicated to religion and historic monuments; and the passing of sentences without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all judicial guarantees which are generally recognized as indispensable) committed in Timbuktu, Mali, between April 2012 and January 2013.