A French court on Wednesday acquitted nine members of the Femen feminist movement who were on trial over a topless protest they staged in Paris's Notre Dame cathedral to celebrate Pope Benedict
Three guards were meanwhile given suspended fines of €300 to 1,000 ($390 to $1,300) for manhandling three of the activists when evicting them from the famous Paris landmark in February 2013.
Prosecutors later appealed the acquittal, a judicial source who wished to remain anonymous told AFP.
The Femen activists entered the Gothic cathedral on February 12 last year dressed in long coats which they whipped off once inside, perching on the base of three bells that were on show to mark the 850-year anniversary of the
Flashing their breasts, they screamed "Pope no more!", "No more homophobe" and "Bye bye Benedict!" in front of stunned visitors, while ringing the big bells with bits of wood.
The activists were accused of damaging one of the bells, but the Femen protestors denied this, saying they had covered their wooden sticks with felt.
The Paris court ruled Wednesday that there was not enough proof that the activists were behind the damage done to the bell.
Inna Shevchenko, the head of the Femen movement in France, said they were "very happy, very satisfied" with the verdict.
"The Femen will continue, that's for sure.
"The fact that Notre Dame and other religious institutions try to sue activists for their criticisms of the Church is a good reason to continue."