French Orthodox Church opens inquiry into historic abuse

The head of France's Orthodox Church on Friday announced an internal investigation into alleged child abuse at a monastery in the southern Herault region more than 30 years ago.

French Orthodox Church opens inquiry into historic abuse
The Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox church in Paris. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY/AFP

The announcement came after Liberation newspaper reported the account of three brothers who said they had been repeatedly raped there as children.

They said two members of the of the Orthodox monastery of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Dalmerie in the late 1970s had abused them, starting when they were 8, 10 and 12 years old respectively.

“Reading this article and the information it contains, their statement is well-founded,” said Metropolitan Dimitrios, head of the Orthodox Church in France.

In a statement he promised to “seek and establish the truth.

“The authors of these acts are now dead and the unspeakable acts they committed” happened too long ago to be prosecuted in the French courts, he added.

“That is why we are committed to conducting an open and transparent investigation into this monastery, its past and its present.”

He would be “attentive to any new case that might emerge in this or any other context”, he added, would cooperate with the authorities and, it they wanted it, meet with the victims.

AFP could not reach the monastery for comment on Friday.

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Hackers post French hospital patient data online

Hackers who crippled a French hospital and stole a trove of data last month have released personal records of patients online, officials have confirmed.

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

The cyberattackers demanded a multimillion dollar ransom from the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital near Paris a month ago, but the institution refused to pay.

The hospital said the hackers had now dumped medical scans and lab analyses along with the social security numbers of patients.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the unspeakable disclosure of hacked data,” health minister Fran├žois Braun tweeted on Sunday.

Hospitals around the world have been facing increasing attacks from ransomware groups, particularly since the pandemic stretched resources to breaking point.

The problem has been acute in France, where officials estimated early last year that healthcare institutions were facing on average an attack every week.

President Emmanuel Macron last year called the attacks during the pandemic a “crisis within a crisis” and announced an extra one billion euros for cybersecurity.

During last month’s attack, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital shut down its emergency services and sent many patients to other institutions.

At one point, officials said the only technology still working was the telephone.

Rather than selling the trove of data, the hacker has dumped at least some of it for download on the “dark web” — a hidden part of the internet that requires special software to access.

Analysts said it seemed to be a tactic to put pressure on the hospital, even though public institutions are banned by French law from paying ransoms.

Cybersecurity researcher Damien Bancal, who revealed the leak and has seen the files, told AFP the worry is that other criminals will now launch scams with the data that has already been divulged.

In response to the leak on the weekend, the hospital severely restricted access to its systems and told patients to be extremely vigilant when receiving emails, text messages or phone calls.