Indict Bush not Bashir – Chavez

DOHA – The anti-American president of Venezuela said that international prosecutors should indict former U.S. President George W. Bush for crimes in Iraq rather than Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir over Darfur.

"The recent indictment against the Sudanese president Bashir is one of these ridiculous cases. It’s a farce," President Hugo Chavez said at a summit of Arab and South American countries in Qatar.

"So why doesn’t the international court indict President Bush, who committed atrocities over eight years, for example, and annihilated the Iraqi people?" he added.

Bashir flew this week to Qatar, where an Arab summit gave him strong support against his indictment by the International Criminal Court over atrocities in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

Bush, who left office in January, ordered the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, toppling former strongman Saddam Hussein. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died in the insurgency and sectarian violence that ensued, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

Chavez made the comments in a speech that attacked Israel over its attack on the Palestinian territory of Gaza in January and tried to ridicule Israel’s argument that its military offensives against Palestinians are in self-defence.

He praised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, among the few Arab leaders who stayed behind after Monday’s Arab summit to attend the second meeting of Arab and South American leaders.

Leaders from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, which are generally aligned with the United States and back the U.S. political and military presence in the region, had already left Doha.