THE HAGUE, Netherlands, July 19 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court announced it started a preliminary investigation into possible crimes committed in Mali since the beginning of the year.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she received a delegation from Mali led by Justice Minister Malick Coulibaly. The delegation, in a letter, requested an investigation into whether one or more people in Mali should be charged with international crimes.
Bensouda said her office has been following the situation in Mali "very closely" since violence erupted early this year. The civilian government in Mali was ousted by a military coup and Islamic rebels later claimed autonomy for the northern Mali.
"On 24 April, as instances of killings, abductions, rapes and conscription of children were reported by several sources, I reminded all actors of ICC jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on the territory of Mali or by Malian nationals," she said in a statement.
Islamic rebels, including some aligned with al-Qaida, have razed protected heritage sites in Timbuktu, saying they weren't in line with their interpretations of Shariah law.
Members of the Economic Community of West African States have called on the United Nations to pass a resolution that would permit the use of force to settle issues in Mali.