A French court Tuesday sentenced a Lebanese businessman in absentia to eight years in prison over a high-end prostitution ring operating at the Cannes Film Festival that had ties to a slain son of Moamer Kadhafi.

The judge also slapped a 50,000 euro ($64,000) fine on Elie Nahas, a Lebanese who claimed to run a modelling agency employing young women recruited in South America, France and eastern Europe.

Prosecutor Damien Martinelli described Nahas as a "businessman dealing in prostitution" and had called for a 200,000 euro fine.

Nahas was also described as a "guy Friday" of Mutassim Kadhafi, one of the sons of the Libyan former dictator.

Six men and a woman were on trial in the southern French port city of Marseille but the five chief figures -- including Nahas -- are on the run.

Nahas is accused of organising a birthday bash for Mutassim Kadhafi in 2004 costing $1.5 million (1.1 million euros) with several stars and about 20 models in attendance.

Mutassim Kadhafi was killed with his father on October 20 last year. Investigators never questioned the son.

A Venezuelan named Felix Farias, who worked for a branch of Nahas's agency and caused a scandal in 2007 when he turned up at Paris airport with eight young women to attend the Cannes Film Festival, got a three-year jail sentence of which two were suspended.

The others got terms ranging from three to six years.