By Catherine Mullin
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced today that she has formally opened an investigation into the Situation in Mali since January of 2012. Mali had previously been under preliminary examination by the Court after the case was referred to the ICC by the Malian government on July 18, 2012. After thorough analysis the Prosecutor has found that evidence, admissibility, gravity of potential cases, and interest of justice all support the requirements to open a formal investigation into war crimes allegedly committed in Mali.
“Since the beginning of the armed conflict in January 2012, the people of Northern Mali have been living in profound turmoil,” said Prosecutor Bensouda. “At each stage during the conflict, different armed groups have caused havoc and human suffering through a range of alleged acts of extreme violence. I have determined that some of these deeds of brutality and destruction may constitute war crimes as defined by the Rome Statute.”
As a result of the preliminary examination Prosecutor Bensouda has found there to be reasonable evidence that war crimes have been committed in Northern Mali. Crimes alleged to have happened include murder; mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; intentionally directing attacks against protected objects; the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court; pillaging; and rape. The ICC will move to investigate these alleged crimes and bring charges against individuals “who bear the greatest criminal responsibility for the most serious crimes committed.”