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ICC Seeks Approval To Investigate Afghanistan War Crimes, Could Include U.S.

Fatou Bensouda did not mention any specific parties to be investigated.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague says she will seek approval to open a formal investigation into allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Fatou Bensouda said in a November 3 statement that there was a "reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity" were committed.

The prosecutor did not mention any specific parties to be investigated.

"In due course, I will file my request for judicial authorization to open an investigation, submitting that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan," Bensouda said in the statement.

"Following a meticulous preliminary examination...I have come to the conclusion that all legal criteria to commence an investigation have been met," she added.

Last year, Bensouda said in a report that there were preliminary grounds to believe U.S. forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan and at secret "dark site" CIA detention facilities elsewhere in 2003 and 2004.

Washington has previously rejected Bensouda's move, saying any probe into their actions would be "unwarranted and inappropriate."

The United States has not ratified the Rome Statute, the court’s founding document, so even if U.S. soldiers were to be charged with war crimes it is unlikely they will end up in a hearing at the ICC.

The report also noted alleged abuses by Afghan soldiers and the Taliban.

The prosecutor will focus on allegations committed since May 1, 2003 on the territory of Afghanistan and war crimes closely linked to the situation in Afghanistan allegedly committed since July 1, 2002 on the territory of other states.

If the request is granted by the court's judges, the office of the prosecutor "will investigate, within its mandate and means, in an independent, impartial and objective way, crimes within the court's jurisdiction allegedly committed by any party to the armed conflict."

With reporting by AFP and AP
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