Attack on an Orthodox priest in 2020: a couple in front of the Lyon assizes


A jealous husband, accused of shooting an Orthodox priest in October 2020, and his wife, suspected of complicity: the Lyon Assize Court plunged into the couple's privacy on Wednesday for the first day of their trial .

Author of the two shots fired with a sawed-off shotgun, which seriously injured the priest in the stomach, Giorgi Praga, 42, is accused of intentional violence with a weapon, resulting in permanent disability. 

Lela Khaburzaniya, 38, his wife, is accused of complicity in willful violence, for having helped her husband commit the alleged crime. They face a maximum sentence of 15 years of criminal imprisonment.

The trial, scheduled for three days, opened in the absence of the victim, Nikolaos Kakavelakis, 54, currently hospitalized in Athens according to his lawyer. 

The priest was targeted while closing the door of the Greek Orthodox church in the 7th arrondissement of Lyon, on October 31, 2020. At the time, the possibility of a terrorist attack was feared the day after the attack. attack on Nice.

According to investigators heard at the bar, Giorgi Praga, 42, a native of Georgia, wanted revenge on the priest, after discovering his sexual relations with his wife. The fact that the lover was religious probably strengthened his resolve. “To be a priest, you have to be a clean man. It’s a way of life. He’s a man I can trust,” said the accused.

The husband and wife considered attacking the priest several days before the incident, according to numerous messages found on their phones by investigators.

The role of the wife has been discussed at length. “From a simple revenge of a jealous and offended husband, who wanted to save his love, we realize that she had participated in carrying out this attack” estimated the investigator of the judicial police. 

“Don’t come home until you beat him,” the wife told her husband the day before the incident. Lela Khaburzaniya had sent her husband several indications on the configuration of the place.

After a painful past in Georgia, against a backdrop of civil war, the couple was hosted by the Emmaüs community in Burgundy, and married in 2015, before settling in Lyon, leading a unique married life. 

Drugged with Subutex, a substitute for heroin, the husband accepted and even favored several sexual liaisons between his wife and external partners, making it a condition of being informed of her adventures. When he suspected an affair with the Orthodox priest, he installed a monitoring app on his phone. “He felt a huge betrayal,” commented Xavier Muller, lawyer for the accused.

The defense of the accused also insisted on the disturbing attitude of the victim, who deleted all the data from his phone, when the police came to question him at the hospital. 

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock / prochasson frederic

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