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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Malawi clerics caught canoodling
By Raphael Tenthani
BBC correspondent in Blantyre

A nun
The nun was allowed to put on her habit after being arrested
A Catholic priest and nun have been convicted in Malawi for making love in an airport car park.

The 43-year-old priest and 26-year-old nun were caught "in the act" in a tinted saloon car parked at Lilongwe International Airport.

"It was a bizarre spectacle, the public alerted airport police after noticing the car shaking in a funny way," police spokesman Kelvin Maigwa told the BBC.

The pair received a suspended six-month jail sentence with hard labour.

Remorse

In a packed and giggling court-room, both the priest and the nun pleaded guilty to the charge of indecent behaviour in a public place and disorderly conduct.

The nun tearfully told the magistrate she regretted her brief lapse in judgement, while the priest said that as a man of God he accepted Satan had tempted him.

We thought they could be rushing for a plane... but they never got out of the car
Taxi driver
Magistrate Arthur Mtalimanja accepted their pleas in mitigation, but admonished them saying that as servants of God they were the last to be expected to misbehave in public.

"I therefore sentence you to six months imprisonment with hard labour, but I will suspend it... because you have shown remorse," he said.

The two were first noticed at the airport by eyewitnesses as they parked the car and wound up the tinted windows.

"We thought they could be rushing for a plane that was about to take off but we were surprised that they never got out of the car," said a taxi driver.

After being arrested, the nun was allowed to put on her habit, Mr Maigwa said.

The priest was dressed in civilian clothes, he said.

If the couple repeat the offence in the next 18 months they will go to jail, the magistrate said.


SEE ALSO:
Clergy 'meddling' in Malawi vote
13 May 04  |  Africa
What role for Africa's Church?
18 Jul 03  |  Africa



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