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Reuters

Chavez: Indict Bush, Not Bashir

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Protesters chant slogans outside the venue where former US President George W. Bush was speaking to an invited audience of Calgary businessmen on Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Jeff McIntosh, The Canadian Press)

DOHA, Qatar - The president of Venezuela said today that international prosecutors should indict former U.S. President George W. Bush for crimes in Iraq, rather than Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for crimes in 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 for atrocities in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

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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 his comments in a speech that attacked Israel for its assault on the Palestinian territory of Gaza in January. He ridiculed Israel's argument that its military offensives against Palestinians were in self-defence.

Chavez praised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, 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.

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