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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
Sadat nephew in court appearance
Talaat Sadat
The trial throws a spotlight on a colourful figure in Egyptian politics
A nephew of late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat has appeared in court accused of spreading false rumours and insulting the armed forces.

The charges relate to Talaat Sadat's accusation of complicity by the army in his uncle's assassination in 1981.

He denies the charges and says he is being prosecuted because he opposes the government. The case was adjourned.

Egypt's ally the US said the case was against freedom of speech, calling it a "keystone of a democratic society".

Correspondents say the controversial opposition MP arrived in a black Cadillac said to have once been owned by the late president.

"This is a dictatorial regime that is consolidating itself in power against people's will," Mr Sadat was quoted saying on his way into court.

"There is political enmity between me and the minister of interior because this man is terrorising the people of Egypt."

Interview allegations

Mr Sadat has called the 1981 assassination by Islamist extremists at a military parade an "international conspiracy" including some of the late president's personal guards and army commanders, as well as the US and Israel.

"No-one from the special personal protection group of the late president fired a single shot during the killing, and not one of them has been put on trial," he said in an interview with Saudi TV.

The US state department said it was concerned about the prosecution, which comes after Mr Sadat was stripped of his immunity as an MP.

"The keystone of a democratic society is the right of free speech, including to criticise one's government, and that extends to the military," said spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos.

Mr Gallegos added that the accusation of US complicity was "offensive and patently false. But in our view he should not be prosecuted for expressing his views."

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