Bush cancels Swiss visit over arrest fears
Washington: Former US President George W Bush has reportedly cancelled a visit to Switzerland amid concerns that he could be arrested for allegedly authorising the torture of prisoners.
The former American leader was due to speak at a charity gala, making the keynote speech at Keren Hayesod`s annual dinner in the city of Geneva on February 12, the `Sky News` reported online.
Human rights groups in the country, however, have been calling for the Swiss government to arrest Bush over allegations he had ordered the torture of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.
Court officials have said criminal complaints against Bush have been lodged in Geneva, but Swiss officials said that he would enjoy diplomatic immunity as a former head of state, the report said.
In his memoirs and television interviews, Bush has admitted to ordering use of waterboarding, which simulated drowning, as an interrogation technique.
Waterboarding is considered a form of torture which is a crime under international law, and human rights experts say absolute prohibition is very clear. Some left-wing groups had also called for a protest on the day of his visit.
Even Keren Hayesod`s organisers said they felt the atmosphere had become too threatening.
"We didn`t want to put people and property in Geneva at risk. The gala is maintained but George Bush will not take part. The criminal complaints did not weigh in the decision," the group`s lawyer Robert Equey was quoted as saying.