The trial of a former Islamic militant who allegedly forced hundreds of women into sexual slavery has opened at the international criminal court, where he has been accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and in a first, persecution on the grounds of gender.

Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, 42, was transferred to the court’s custody more than two years ago from Mali, where he had been held by local authorities for more than a year.

Prosecutors in The Hague have accused him of torture, extrajudicial punishments and participation in a policy of forced marriage, which “led to repeated rapes and sexual enslavement of women and girls”.

Read more: MSN