Arusha, January 16, 2013 (FH) - International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda today formally opened an investigation into alleged crimes committed in Mali since January 2012. According to an ICC statement, a preliminary investigation opened in July 2012 has determined there is reasonable basis to believe that numerous serious crimes have been committed, including murder, cruel treatment and torture, directing attacks against protected objects, summary executions and rape.

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“At each stage during the conflict, different armed groups have caused havoc and human suffering through a range of alleged acts of extreme violence,” said Bensouda. “I have determined that some of these deeds of brutality and destruction may constitute war crimes as defined by the Rome Statute.”

Based on the information gathered to date, the investigation will focus on crimes committed in the three northern regions of Mali.

Following the referral of the Situation in Mali by the Malian State, the office of the Prosecutor may investigate and prosecute any crime within the ICC jurisdiction committed on the territory of Mali since January 2012, the statement said.

“Justice can play its part in supporting the joint efforts of the ECOWAS, the AU and the entire international community to stop the violence and restore peace to the region,” said Bensouda. “Key regional and international organizations have acknowledged the need for justice as part of the resolution of the crisis in Mali.”