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President Bush Cancels Switzerland Speech, War Crimes Haunt Former Leader

February 6, 2011

Poor George.

A planned trip to Switzerland this week by George W. Bush was canceled after human rights activists called for demonstrations and threatened legal action over allegations that the former president sanctioned the torture of terrorism suspects.

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and several European human rights groups said they were planning to file a complaint against Bush and wanted Swiss prosecutors to open a criminal case against him once he arrived in the country.

In what would have been his first European trip since leaving office, Bush was scheduled to speak in Geneva on Feb. 12 at a dinner in honor of the United Israel Appeal. A lawyer for the organization said that Bush’s appearance was canceled because of the risk of violence, and that the threat of legal action was not an issue.

A Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Associated Press that the country’s Justice Ministry had concluded that Bush would have immunity from prosecution for any alleged actions while in office. The Center for Constitutional Rights disputed that interpretation, arguing there is no such immunity under the Convention Against Torture.

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