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Femen member handed suspended sentence for topless protest in Paris church

media Eloïse Boutin, who has since left Femen, protests in Paris's Madeleine church AFP/Thomas Samson

A former member of feminist group Femen has been found guilty of exhibitionism and given a one-month suspended sentence for a topless protest in a Paris church last year. Eloïse Bouton, 31, says she is amazed by the verdict.

As well as the suspended sentence, Bouton was ordered to pay 2,000 euros in damages and 1,500 legal expenses to the priest of the Madeleine church in central Paris on Wednesday.

She said she would appeal.

On 20 December Bouton ran topless towards the altar of the church with “Christmas is cancelled” scrawled on her back and “344e salope” (344th slut – a reference to a pro-abortion declaration published in 1971) on her stomach before a congregation of about 10 people, while a choir practice was taking place.

She brandished some pieces of calf’s liver, supposed to represent the abortion of the baby Jesus, in protest at the Catholic church’s opposition to abortion and proposals to restrict access to it in Spain.

The Paris diocese welcomed the sentence as a condemnation of an attack on the religious freedom.

Bouton said she was “amazed” to have been found guilty of “sexual exhibition” while carrying out a “feminist act”, adding that “of course” the verdict was influenced by the fact that her protest had taken place in a church.

On the day that Bouton’s case went to court Femen member Iana Jdanova was found guilty of sexual exhibition for a topless protest in the Musée Grévin waxworks and fined, the only other such conviction against the bare-breasted campaigners.

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