Bishop Riah loses latest court battle: CEN 6.06.08 p 8. June 11, 2008Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Property Litigation.
The former Bishop in Jerusalem has lost the second round of his court battle with the diocese over the ownership of a church school in Nazareth. Last month an Israeli court upheld a magistrate’s ruling ordering Bishop Riah Abu al-Assal and his family to turn custody of the “Bishop Riah Educational Campus” in Nazareth over to the Diocese pending a final court decision.
In a statement filed on its website, the Diocese in Jerusalem said that shortly before his retirement in March 2007, Bishop Riah established a charitable trust staffed by members of his family and sought to transfer the assets and administration of the diocese’s Christ Church School in Nazareth over to the new “Bishop Riah Educational Campus.”
The diocese said Bishop Riah had collected tuition fees from the students while the school’s expenses, including staff salaries were being paid by the diocese, and had asked the Church Mission Society (CMS) to give him a power of attorney over the school property. In his court filings Bishop Riah countered that he had provided the funds for building the school, which employs his son as headmaster, and that he had raised funds for the school in his personal rather than episcopal capacity.
Following attempts at mediation, the diocese brought suit against Bishop Riah and his family trust for possession of the school and the tuition fees, and on Jan 22, 2008 a magistrate court granted the diocese control of the assets pending final adjudication. Bishop Riah appealed the magistrate’s ruling and the Israeli district court rejected this plea last month. However, a final decision on the ownership of the school and the rights to the fees is not expected until after a civil trial, which may take up to four years to be resolved.