BEIRUT: Mansour Labaki, a Lebanese priest convicted of child molestation, is waiting for an official decision from the Vatican on his acquittal, his lawyer says.
“The case is not in the hand of the pope alone and based on documents we have, we are not surprised by media reports quoting Vatican sources that our client is innocent, but we are waiting for the official decision,” Antoine Akl, the lawyer of Labaki, said in a statement.
Labaki, 73, was convicted by the Vatican in April 2012 of sexually abusing more than three children, as well as soliciting sex. He was sentenced to a “life of prayer,” which he has been carrying out in a monastery in Lebanon.
Labaki, a Maronite priest, author and composer, is known in both Lebanon and France for his charity work, particularly with orphans. He has founded two orphanages in Lebanon and one in France, and has won 15 international book prizes.
His sentence was carried out under Vatican law, with other states typically avoiding involvement in Vatican legal matters, Marco Ventura, professor of Canon law and religion at the University of Leuven in Belgium, told the Daily Star last year.
Labaki had attempted an appeal with the Vatican last year that was rejected in June. His lawyer Akl said he has now filed a criminal lawsuit to the Lebanese judiciary against those involved in accusations against Labaki, and obtained “clear evidence” that the allegations are void.
Akl said the evidence were emails between those who accused Labaki of child molestation.