Arusha, September 3, 2012 (FH) – A team from the International Criminal Court is in Mali to gather informations about war crimes allegedly committed in the northern part of the country, where some rebels, including Islamist extremists have seized control.

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The rebel groups are accused of committing numerous crimes, including rapes, massacres of civilians, the enlistment of child soldiers and torture.

"We're in Mali to pick up elements, listen to various people and take a comparative look" at available reports, the AFP quotes ICC mission chief Amady Ba.

"This is a time of analysis... We shall be taking our findings back and the (ICC) prosecutor (Fatou Bensouda) will judge if there is a need for inquiries before taking legal action," Ba further said.

It is reported also that the three-member team from The Hague based Court met with various top officials on Thursday, including Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore, Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra and members of a Malian panel set up to liase with the ICC.

The ICC move comes few months after a call by six Western African leaders on the matter. In July 2012, Heads of State from Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Burkina Faso held a mini-Summit in Ouagadougou to discuss, among others, the political crisis in Mali.

Earlier in July 2012, the ICC Prosecutor announced an initial probe at the request of the Mali government into whether armed groups committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in their sweep that followed a coup in the capital Bamako.

Mali ratified the ICC Treaty in August 2000. The ICC Prosecutor can open an inquiry once such request is approved by judges of the court.