The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched a preliminary inquiry into alleged atrocities committed in rebel-held northern Mali.

Rebels in northern Mali. Photo: 16 July 2012

Malian rebels have been accused of executions, rape and the use of child soldiers


ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the move followed a request by the Malian government.

Armed groups – including Islamist rebels – are accused of executions, rapes and the use of child soldiers.

The rebels took control of northern Mali after an army coup in March in the impoverished West African country.

‘War crime’
“I have instructed my office to immediately proceed with a preliminary examination of the situation,” Ms Bensouda said in a statement on Wednesday.

She said that the Malian government had admitted that it was “unable to prosecute or try the perpetrators”.

The inquiry would seek to establish there are grounds to bring charges for the alleged atrocities.

Ms Bensouda earlier said that she regarded the destruction of Muslim shrines in the ancient city of Timbuktu as “a war crime”. Read more…