MARSEILLE, France: A French court Tuesday sentenced a Lebanese businessman in absentia to eight years in prison over a high-end prostitution ring operating at the Cannes Film Festival that had ties to a slain son of Moammar Gadhafi. The judge also slapped a 50,000 euro ($64,000) fine on Elie Nahas, a Lebanese who claimed to run a modeling agency employing young women recruited in South America, France and eastern Europe. Prosector Damien Martinelli described Nahas as a “businessman dealing in prostitution” and had called for a 200,000 euro fine. Six men and a woman were on trial in the southern French port city of Marseille but the five chief figures – including Nahas – are on the run. Nahas is accused of organizing a birthday bash for Mutassim Gadhafi in 2004 costing $1.5 million with several stars and about 20 models in attendance. The others got terms ranging from three to six years.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 24, 2012, on page 3.