Rights group condemns Libya visit by Sudan's Bashir

TRIPOLI Sat Jan 7, 2012 5:42am EST

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges, arrived in Libya on Saturday, drawing criticism from a human rights group.

Bashir, wanted by The Hague-based court on charges of orchestrating genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, was met by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council, at Tripoli airport, a Libyan official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

"Welcoming Bashir ... raises questions about the NTC's stated commitment to human rights and the rule of law," Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

"Following the end of decades of brutal rule in Libya, it is disturbing if Tripoli hosts a head of state on the run from international arrest warrants for grave human rights violations."

Abdul Jalil, who visited Khartoum in November, has said Sudanese weapons and ammunition helped Libya's former rebels oust Muammar Gaddafi last year and take control of the North African country.

Relations between Khartoum and Tripoli were strained during Gaddafi's rule because of his support for rebels in Sudan's western Darfur region and in South Sudan, which gained independence in July under a 2005 peace deal.

Bashir is under increasing pressure at home after his country lost much of its oil production to the south. The loss of revenue is fuelling inflation, hitting hard Sudanese who have suffered years of conflict.

(Reporting by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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