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Court refuses to ban Sarkozy voodoo doll

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-28

A French appeals court has ruled that a voodoo doll representing Nicolas Sarkozy is offensive but shouldn't be banned outright as requested by the French president. The case was Sarkozy's sixth lawsuit since taking office last year.

An appeals court in Paris refused Friday to ban a Nicolas Sarkozy voodoo doll, although it agreed with the French president that it was offensive.

A lower court in October had dismissed Sarkozy's request for a ban, ruling that the doll fell "within the authorised limits of free expression and the right to humour."

The appeals judge found that "spearing the doll according to the instructions and with the provided needles -- an action that evokes physical harm albeit symbolic -- constitutes an offence to the dignity of Mr Sarkozy."

The judge ruled against banning the doll, however, saying that such a move would be "disproportionate and inadequate."

Instead, the court ordered Tear Prod -- the company behind the novelty -- to include a copy of its ruling inside the box in which the doll is sold.

The doll is emblazoned with some of Sarkozy's famous quotes including "Get lost arsehole!" that the president told a bystander who refused to shake his hand at a farm show last year.

Sarkozy's lawyer Thierry Herzog said he "absolutely satisfied" by the ruling.

Herzog had argued during the appeals ruling that inciting people to stick needles in the Sarkozy doll went "far beyond" satire and was tantamount to "incitement to hatred."

The case was the president's sixth lawsuit since he was elected last year.

Date created : 2008-11-28