THE HAGUE: A Malian jihadist faces judgment Tuesday in a landmark case before the International Criminal Court for razing Timbuktu’s fabled shrines, with experts hoping it will send a strong message to safeguard the world’s ancient monuments. A three-judge bench will hand down its verdict and sentence at 0930 GMT against Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, the first jihadist to stand trial at the tribunal in The Hague. The historic verdict will be the first to focus solely on cultural destruction as a war crime and the first arising out of the conflict in Mali. Observers say they hope it acts as a deterrent to those bent on razing the world’s cultural heritage, which UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently condemned as “tearing at the fabric of societies”. In an unprecedented move, Mahdi, around 40, last month pleaded guilty to the single war crimes charge of “intentionally directing” attacks in 2012 on nine of Timbuktu’s mausoleums and the centuries-old door of the city’s Sidi Yahia mosque.