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Sarkozy calls Syria's Assad a 'murderer,' says he should face international court
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 U.N. Security Council, Sarkozy told Europe-1 radio.
U.N. 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 U.N. 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 U.N. 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.
International envoy Kofi Annan visited Syria over the weekend and was in Turkey on Tuesday to try to find a way to end the violence, but both the Syrian government and the opposition are refusing to talk to one another.
Sarkozy played down concerns about violence in Libya and the country's direction after Gadhafi's ouster.
"A country three times larger than France with 6 million residents, you have to leave it a bit of time. You cannot pass from dictatorship to democracy in 6 months," he said.
Russia, which is Syria's most powerful ally, and China have vetoed two U.S. and European-backed Security Council resolutions which would have condemned Assad's bloody crackdown, saying they were unbalanced and demanded that only the government stop attacks, not the opposition.