PARIS (AP) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that Syria’s leader is acting like a murderer and should be sent to the International Criminal Court.
With diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria faltering, the French leader urged humanitarian corridors to allow refugees out and aid in to the country.
“We must obtain humanitarian corridors, and for that we must unblock the Russian veto and Chinese veto” at the UN Security Council, Sarkozy told Europe-1 radio.
UN Security Council members are meeting to decide what to do next to try to stop the violence.
“The French army can in no way intervene” in Syria without UN backing, Sarkozy said. France, Syria’s former colonial ruler, was a leading player in the U.N.-mandated, NATO-led airstrike campaign in Libya.
Sarkozy reached out to both Assad and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi earlier in his tenure to try get them to cooperate with the international community. But after both leaders responded to uprisings last year with military repression of protesters, Sarkozy abandoned his support for them.
The UN estimates that more than 7,500 people have been killed since the anti-Assad struggle started a year ago inspired by Arab Spring uprisings elsewhere. As Assad’s forces used deadly force to stop the unrest, protests spread and some Syrians took up arms.
Assad “is today behaving like a murderer and will have to answer for himself at the International Criminal Court,” Sarkozy said.
Amnesty says prisoners were tortured by Syrian forces
Syrian security forces routinely torture people detained during the country’s year-old uprising against Assad, Amnesty International said in a report released Wednesday.
The London-based group said detainees are beaten with sticks, cords and rifle butts and sometimes suspended inside tires for further beatings. Others are sexually assaulted or killed.
Amnesty based its report on interviews in mid-February with dozens of Syrians who had fled to neighboring Jordan. Twenty-five said they had been tortured or ill-treated, the group said.
Torture appears to be part of a strategy to punish and intimidate dissidents, the group said. It calls on the International Criminal Court in the Hague to investigate charges of crimes against humanity against Syrian officials.
“Torture and other ill-treatment in Syria form part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population, carried out in an organized manner and as part of state policy and therefore amount to crimes against humanity,” it said.
The group said it has documented 276 cases of death in detention since the uprising’s start. But given the large number of people who have been detained, it says the number of those killed is likely much higher.
The report also accuses armed opposition groups of kidnapping and killing people believed to be associated with the regime — actions it condemns.
Syrian officials were not immediately available for comment. The Syrian government blames the uprising on armed extremists acting out a foreign conspiracy.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.