On November 8th, a trial was held in the French commune of Caen against the Lebanese priest Mansour Labaky, who was charged for rape and sexual abuse of three young girls in the orphanage he had run for seven years, starting 1991.
The 81 years old Maronite priest, who took refuge in Lebanon, was sentenced to 15 years in jail following the trial, which he didn’t attend, alleging health problems.
Labaki had run this center located in Calvados near Caen in the Western part of France and that hosted Lebanese kids orphaned due to the war.
He was prosecuted before the French judiciary on charges of rape and sexual assault of those three girls during that period, allegedly pushing them to confess in his office, isolating them to then sexually assault them.
However, it is significant to note that only one of them took on the status of a civil party in the case as “the other two girls are sisters, and they received several threats in Lebanon,” explained Solange Domic, the civil party’s lawyer.
Labaky’s lawyer pleaded that these “facts” assigned to her client “have not been proven to have actually taken place.” Thus, she asked the court to “acquit him, at least because of the presumption of doubt.”
Back in 2016, an international arrest warrant was issued against the Lebanese priest but the Lebanese state refused to extradite him.
Labaky is defended by many, as he is praised as being “a man of God” as such accusations against a religious man are not easily accepted in Lebanon.
Celeste Akiki, the niece of Mansour Labaki, testified in the French court, accusing him of sexual harassment.
“The conviction will be an acknowledgment of the victims’ innocence,” she said about the verdict against her uncle. “It is essential for wounds to heal, especially since he shows no remorse and presents himself as a victim of a conspiracy.”
The victim’s lawyer Solange Domic stressed the serious repercussions on the girls.
She stated that “one of them tried several times to commit suicide, another suffered from anorexia and depression, while a third was forced to live in exile and accused of insanity, and two sisters were separated from each other.”
Since the lawsuit began against him, Labaky has been living away from the public eye in a monastery in Lebanon.