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Lebanon Shiite Cleric Calls for Bush Trial Over Iraq

US President George W. Bush should go on trial for lying to the world about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the 2003 invasion, a leading Lebanese Shiite cleric said on Sunday.

"President Bush... should be seen by the world as an apostle of lies and a preacher of destruction and terrorism," said a statement from Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who has followers throughout the Shiite Muslim world.

Bush "should be tried as the number one liar in the world," Fadlallah said, reacting to a US study that said the American president lied 260 times about Iraq's weapons capacity ahead of the war.

The study, published last week in Washington by the Centre for Public Integrity, said Bush and his top aides made "935 false statements" about Iraqi weapons and its alleged links to Al-Qaeda in the run-up to the war.

"Bush and seven of his administration's top officials methodically propagated erroneous information," it said, with the pace of lies picking up in August 2002 ahead of US congressional consideration of a war resolution.

The US president was found to have made the highest number of false statements, referring a total of 260 times to Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction and alleged Al-Qaeda links to the Baghdad regime, the report said.

Charges that the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had stockpiled an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction proved to be untrue after the invasion, when no such weapons were found.

Fadlallah warned against what he called Bush's "next big lie," and said that "political falsehoods have become the salt of US policies."

© 2008 Agence France Presse

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