Court rules Sarkozy voodoo doll can remain on sale

PARIS Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:41pm IST

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PARIS (Reuters) - A doll representing French President Nicolas Sarkozy and an accompanying "voodoo manual" with directions for sticking pins into the figurine can remain on sale after a ruling from an appeals court on Friday.

The doll, which has been on sale since Oct. 9, is adorned with a choice of Sarkozy's best-known remarks including his now-famous admonition to a heckler, "Get lost you pathetic arsehole!". It also comes with pins and a set of instructions for sticking them into the doll.

The court ruled that the doll and the accompanying volume entitled "Nicolas Sarkozy, the voodoo manual" constituted an "offence against the personal dignity" of Sarkozy.

But it said it would be "disproportionate and harmful to liberty of expression" to ban their sale outright.

Instead, it said that the doll may be sold provided it carries a notice of the judgment attached.

It also ordered the manufacturers to pay Sarkozy 2,000 euros ($2,588) in costs, all other costs of the case as well as a symbolic one euro in damages.

Sarkozy's lawyer Thierry Herzog said he was satisfied by the judgment. "The important thing is that consistent principles and jurisprudence should be applied," he said.

A lower court last month rejected an application by Sarkozy to prevent the publishers from selling the doll and the manual, ruling that the items were "within the authorised boundaries of freedom of expression and the right to humour".

Voodoo is a religion practised in some parts of the Caribbean and the southern United States.

According to a common belief, practitioners stick pins into dolls representing their enemies to harm them. Specialists in voodoo say they do not use dolls in this way.

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