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Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 17:07 UK

Egyptian court frees insult poet

President Hosni Mubarak at a news conference on 7 July 2009
Insulting the president can land Egyptian citizens in jail for three years

An Egyptian court has overturned a three-year jail sentence given to a poet for insulting the president.

The court accepted the argument of Moneer Said Hanna's lawyer that he had been investigated and put on trial without having had access to a lawyer.

The case had gone largely unreported until his family asked a newspaper last week to publish an appeal for clemency.

Relatives of the amateur poet told the BBC he was delighted and would not be writing poems of this kind again.

Under Egyptian law, insulting the President, Hosni Mubarak, can cost the offender three years in jail and a fine.

Civil servant Mr Hanna, 56, had been ordered to pay 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($18,000; £11,000), which was also overturned by the appeals court in Adwa, Minya province.

None of the offending verses written by Mr Hanna has been published.



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