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Saddam Hussein sues French leftist magazine for defamation

March 3, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ Saddam Hussein has sued a French magazine for defamation for calling the Iraqi president an ``executioner″ and a ``monster,″ among other things.

The September article in Le Nouvel Observateur, ``The Unbearable Likeness of an Executioner,″ also called Saddam a ``perfect cretin,″ and ``murderer.″

At a hearing Monday, the defense argued that the court should throw out the case. Lawyer Sylvie Couturon said the Iraqi strongman was wrong in filing the defamation suit as if he were a common citizen.

Martine Valdes-Boulouque, the government’s assistant prosecutor, agreed, saying it should be filed as ``an offense against a foreign head of state.″

But Saddam’s lawyer, Patrick Brunot, argued his client could only file as a common citizen and not as a head of state, because Paris and Baghdad cut diplomatic relations in February 1991, during the Gulf War.

Judge Martine Ract-Madoux took the motion under advisement and planned to announce April 1 whether the trial may proceed.

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