SAMOA SUPREME COURT TO HEAR NEWSPAPER LIBEL CASE

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APIA, Samoa (March 15, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The Samoan Court of Appeal last week ordered the Supreme Court to hear a case of criminal libel against the Samoa Observer newspaper for publishing a letter attacking the Prime Minister.

The letter, from a Samoan in New Zealand, called for someone to hit Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana. The letter also expressed doubts about the Samoan leader's health.

The Court of Appeal ruled the letter crossed the line from being just severe criticism to that of "vilification or character assassination."

No date for the Supreme Court hearing has been set.

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