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Polish Court Fines Publisher for Insulting Pope

A Polish court has fined a magazine publisher $6,400 for insulting Pope John Paul.

The Warsaw court Tuesday found Jerzy Urban, who was a spokesman for Poland's former communist government, guilty of violating a law that bans publicly insulting foreign heads of state.

He printed an article in the weekly magazine NIE making fun of the pope's age and frailty shortly before the Polish-born pontiff's August 2002 visit to his homeland.

The court's decision brought expressions of concern from Europe's top security organization that Poland is curtailing the freedom of the press.

A spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that increased protection for public officials is contrary to European law. He then called on Polish authorities to introduce legislation decriminalizing libel and defamation.

Some information for this report provided by AP.