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Court can't take Sadat libel case

A Cairo civil court has ruled that it is not competent to hear a libel case brought against President Sadat by two of his domestic political opponents who sought to restrain the Egyptian leader's frequent diatribes against his small but strident opposition.

Contributor Nathaniel Harrison reports that the three-judge panel determined that the President can only be sued in a special superior court. Lawyers for Mr. Sadat had argued that according to the Egyptian Constitution the special court can be convened only with the approval of the Egyptian parliament.

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The case arose from remarks the President made in public last September in which he allegedly slandered the reputation of two prominent opposition figures, both former members of parliament. Lawyers for the plaintiffs brought the action to curtail what they claim is Mr. Sadat's practice of using his great influence to defame those who oppose him at home. The court decision to refrain from ruling on the merits of the complaint had been expected, they said, indicating that an appeal is planned.

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