Sadat nephew jailed for defaming Egyptian army

  • World
  • Tuesday, 31 Oct 2006

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian military court sentenced opposition lawmaker Talaat Sadat, a nephew of the late President Anwar Sadat, to a year in jail on Tuesday for insulting the armed forces, his spokesman said. 

Talaat Sadat, who was also convicted of spreading disinformation, was taken into custody immediately after the verdict was announced, his brother Mohammed-Anwar Sadat said. He was also fined 200 Egyptian pounds ($35). 

Talaat Sadat, a member of the small Ahrar (Liberals) Party, is the second prominent Egyptian politician in less than two years to lose his parliamentary immunity and end up in jail. 

The lawmaker sparked an uproar in Egypt when he said he believed the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat was an international conspiracy in which senior Egyptian military officials at the time were involved. 

An Islamist militant shot the former president dead as he watched a military parade. The gunman was tried and executed. 

"We do not know what to do now... The verdict was a surprise to all of his lawyers," the legislator's brother told Reuters. 

There is usually no appeal against emergency military court verdicts, although convicts can ask President Hosni Mubarak for a pardon. 

Egypt's parliament speaker had swiftly agreed to strip Talaat Sadat's immunity after a request from military prosecutors earlier this month following his remarks. 

Sadat has said his comments were not intended to insult the military establishment, and later published newspaper advertisements professing respect for the army. 

Several Egyptian human rights organisations have said the decision to put him on trial before a military court was a violation of the right to free speech. 

The other prominent Egyptian politician in jail is Ayman Nour, who ran against Mubarak in the presidential elections in September 2005. He is serving a five-year sentence on what he says are fabricated fraud charges. 

Nour, who was leader of the liberal Ghad (Tomorrow) Party, appeared in court in a separate case on Tuesday and told Reuters that the authorities should free him on health grounds. 

"My health is very bad. I have trouble with my heart because the arteries are very constricted. The law approves of release on health grounds if imprisonment is a danger to the life of the prison," he said, speaking by telephone from the court. 

The Egyptian authorities have ignored U.S. and other appeals for a reconsideration of the case of Nour, who came a distant second to Mubarak in the elections with 8 percent of the vote. 

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