04/21/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
A Berlin appeals court has upheld Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1999 legal victory over a German cardiologist who publicly predicted that the star would soon die from a heart condition, according to his publicist. Dr. Willi Heepe, who never examined the actor, said in a 1998 interview that Schwarzenegger, 53, would not likely live much longer because of his condition. A publicist for Schwarzenegger, a former champion body-builder who had elective surgery in 1997 to repair a defective heart valve, said the ruling had been upheld by the Berlin High Court on appeal. "I hope that my prosecution of this case sends a strong message to opportunists around the world that I will not sit back passively when people tell lies about me," said Schwarzenegger. The Berlin Regional Court ruled in favor of Schwarzenegger in November of 1999, ordering Heepe to pay the "Terminator" star 20,000 marks ($10,300) in damages and issue a public retraction. Heepe has since issued the retraction and an apology. Schwarzenegger donated his winnings to the Special Olympics in Germany.