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Unanswered prayers lead student to make Lourdes bomb threat

Procession at the Lourdes shrine in France. Photo: Julian Kumar/AFP

Procession at the Lourdes shrine in France. Photo: Julian Kumar/AFP

A University student yesterday confessed in court he had sent an e-mail to the Lourdes pilgrimage site in France threatening to blow it up because his prayers for a disabled boy were not answered.

Francis Cassar, 26, of Naxxar created a hotmail account under a fake name and sent the e-mail on August 1 warning of four bombs that would be detonated at the sacred site. He was later traced by the police via his computer’s IP address.

Mr Cassar accompanied his parents to Lourdes to pray for a disabled relative and returned home to find that nothing seemed to have changed. Frustrated and angry, he decided to send the threatening e-mail.

During his arraignment yesterday, Mr Cassar pleaded guilty to making the threat and misusing a computer.

Magistrate Joseph Apap Bologna handed down a one year jail term suspended for two years and fined him €200.

Lawyer Michael Tanti-Dougall appeared for Mr Cassar.

The French authorities were also investigating the incident but there was no word yet whether an extradition request would be made for Mr Cassar to face prosecution there, sources said.

The threat was modelled on a similar incident that occurred about a year ago when about 50,000 people had to be evacuated because of a threat, the sources said. Lourdes has been the centre of pilgrimages since February 1858 after the Holy Mother appeared to a 14-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubirous. Some 67 miracles directly connected to Lourdes have so far been confirmed by the Catholic Church as millions of people visit the shrine every year.

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