A judge at the International Criminal Court has postponed a crucial pretrial hearing for an alleged Islamic radical charged with involvement in the 2012 destruction of historic mausoleums and a mosque in Timbuktu.

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, who was sent to the court in September, had been due to attend a hearing starting Jan. 18 at which judges were to assess whether evidence against him is strong enough to merit a trial. The hearing was postponed Wednesday until March 1 to give his defense more time to prepare.

Al Mahdi is the first suspect in the court's custody charged with the war crime of deliberately attacking religious or historical monuments.

Islamic radicals overran the Malian city in 2012 and destroyed 14 of Timbuktu's 16 World Heritage-listed mausoleums.