Mali Islamist police chief gets 10-year jail term for amputations

(Reuters) - A Malian Islamist police chief who cut off people's hands as part of a harsh form of Islamic law during an occupation of the north in 2012-13 by jihadi rebels was handed a 10-year jail term, his lawyer said on Saturday.

The trial, which opened on Friday, was the first by a national Malian court for crimes by Islamists when they took over the desert north after an uprising by northern ethnic Tuareg separatists.
Aliou Mahamane Toure was head of police in the northern city of Gao during the 10-month regime. His lawyer Oumar Abocar Sidibe told Reuters the court had arrived at the decision late on Friday.
"We intend to appeal," he said, on the grounds that other Islamists who had committed atrocities had gone free.
But he said that Toure "benefited from mitigating circumstances, as he could otherwise have gotten the death penalty and the prosecution had asked for life imprisonment."
Mali retains the death penalty in principle but hasn't practiced it since the 1990s.
The Islamists were also known to conduct public stonings and floggings as punishment for adultery and other acts.
Judges at the International Criminal Court ruled this week that a former Islamist rebel jailed for wrecking holy sites in the ancient city of Timbuktu during the same period was liable for damages of 2.7 million euros ($3.2 million).
Violence by Islamists continues to disrupt life in northern and central Mali, with frequent deadly attacks on security forces and U.N. peacekeepers.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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