Paper rapped for Sarkozy jailbird sex montage

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President Nicolas Sarkozy secured a court order on Friday forcing a French satirical newspaper to black out front-page photomontages that depict him as a prison inmate in obscene sexual poses.

Sarkozy took legal action this week after Le Monte -- a spoof version of Le Monde newspaper -- printed a series of composite pictures under the headline "Nicolas Sarkozy in Jail" in its July-August edition.

According to the court ruling, the doctored pictures of Sarkozy use "an image of his face without authorisation," with one of them "depicting him naked and undergoing a sexual act, behind the bars of a prison cell."

Another "shows him naked imposing a sexual act upon a goat," said the ruling seen by AFP.

The Paris criminal court issued a fast-track ruling ordering the publisher Sonora Media to black out the images in every copy of its summer edition, or pay a fine of 100 euros (130 dollars) for every picture still visible.

Sonora Media was also ordered to pay Sarkozy a symbolic euro in damages for images which the court said "overstep accepted limits and constitute a violation of human dignity."

"It's schoolboy humour, a bit trashy but not cruel," insisted Stephane de Rosnay one of the spoof paper's publishers.

"The decision seems disproportionate to us," he said, adding that the paper would be withdrawn from sale from Monday.

Sonora Media's lawyer slammed the ruling, saying it "undermines free speech."

"This is an extremely worrying decision," said the lawyer, Patrick Klugman, who also complained of the repeated questioning by police of the publisher's executives.

Sarkozy has taken repeated legal action to protect his image since being elected in 2007, in contrast with previous French presidents who traditionally refused to take action in the courts.

© 2010 AFP

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