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Nov 09 2021 - 03:59
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French court sentences Monsignor Labaki in absentia to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing children - [REPORT]

publishing date: 09/11/2021 03:59:30
The Criminal Court of Caen in western France issued on Monday a 15-year prison sentence news ,lbci ,أخبار France, Court, Sexual Abuse, Children, Labaki, Church, Priest,Lebanon,The Criminal Court of Caen in western France issued on Monday a 15-year prison sentence
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The Criminal Court of Caen in western France issued on Monday a 15-year prison sentence against Lebanese priest Mansour Labaki, after convicting him in absentia on charges of child rape and sexual assault.

The court convicted the 81-year-old Maronite priest after two hours of deliberations. 

His name will added to the list of sex offenders.

Labaki, 81, resides in Lebanon, and did not attend the session, according to AFP.
 
An International arrest warrant was issued for Labaki in April 2016, but Beirut refused back then to hand him over.
 
Prosecutor Pascal Shaw who requested a 15-year prison sentence for the priest, said in his pleading that Labaki "never stopped defaming the plaintiffs, and even went so far as to accuse them of insanity."
 
He added that the priest "also exerted pressure, directly or indirectly, on some of the victims or their families," justifying the penalty he sought by citing the "gravity" of the charges against him.
 
At the begging of the session, Shaw said that “the investigation was long, very long. Mr. Labaki did not respond at all to the investigating judge’s requests, claiming that he had health problems that we could not verify.”
 
In 2012, the Vatican’s ecclesiastical judiciary convicted Mansour Labaki on the same charges. In 2013, victims filed a complaint with the French judiciary.
 
However, many of the accusations levelled by these people against the Lebanese priest, which date back to the nineties, have become obsolete.
 
Labaki had founded and managed between 1991 and 1998 a center to house Lebanese children orphaned as a result of the Lebanese Civil War in Douvres-la-Délivrande (Calvados) near Caen in western France. The priest was accused of sexually exploiting a number of girls in the center and assaulted them during that period.
 
Labaki was prosecuted before the French judiciary on charges of rape and sexual assault of three girls, but only one of them took on the status of a civil party in the case. The civil party's lawyer Solange Domic said "the other two girls are sisters who received several threats in Lebanon."
 
In her plea, the lawyer emphasized the "repercussions" of what the accused has committed against his victims, stressing that "one of them attempted suicide several times, another suffered from anorexia and depression, while a third was forced to live in exile and was accused of insanity, while two sisters were separated from each other."
 
Celeste Akiki, the niece of Mansour Labaki, who also accused him of sexual harassment, said “the conviction will be an acknowledgment of the victims' innocence. Wounds must heal, especially since he shows no remorse and portrays himself as a victim of a conspiracy.”
 
Akiki travelled to France from the United States to testify.
 
Labaki has consistently denied the accusations against him.
 
During the hearing, the defense attorney for the accused Florence Rolle, argued for  the innocence of her client, referring in particular to "the hundred people who were heard during the investigation and who gave very positive testimonies" about the accused.
 
In her pleading, the lawyer stressed that the events attributed to her client "have not been proven to have actually taken place" and therefore requested from the court to "acquit him, at least because of the presumption of doubt."
 
Labaki was widely known in Lebanon, particularly for his charitable activities and religious television and radio shows. Since the start of the lawsuits against him, he has been living away from the spotlight in a monastery belonging to a Lebanese monastic order.
 
 
 
To watch full report, please click on the video above.



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