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French rector in trial over missing mosque funds

media The grand mosque in Paris. wikipedia

The rector of a Paris suburb mosque appeared in French court on Friday on charges of embezzlement for allegedly diverting donations to a personal offshore bank account.

Mohamed Boudjedi, who heads the mosque in Nanterre, is accused of channelling hundreds of thousands of euros handed over by his followers and meant for the construction of a new mosque.

Prosecutors on Friday called for a two-year sentence with at least six months behind bars.

"He abused the confidence of the faithful, an act that is particularly serious given that this new place of worship was much-anticipated," the prosecuting lawyer told the court.

This is not the first time Boudjedi was convicted of embezzlement. In 2012, he was sentenced to 18 months with a six-month non-parole period for stealing 20,000 euros from his congregation.

This time around he faces charges along with eight others, all accused of being involved in rerouting money given to the Islamic Association of Nanterre.

Prosecutors say Boudjedi, the president of the association, placed some of the diverted 530,000 euros form the fund into a personal secret account in Cyprus.

Boudjedi said the money was “for the mosque, for me, for my children.”

The court will deliver its verdict on October 2.

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