State Prepares Plea to Extradite Priest
By Stathi Paxinos
The Age [Australia]
June 24, 2004
The Federal Government had not acted to extradite a convicted pedophile priest from Samoa, where he was posted by a Catholic order after being charged with sexual abuse, because it had not received a formal request from Victoria, federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison said yesterday.
Senator Ellison said the Australian Federal Police had been aware of Father Frank Klep and provided information to Samoan authorities in 1998 when he was moved there by his order, the Salesians of Del Brosco.
He said the Federal Government had not received an official request for extradition from Victorian police. However, the Government would act quickly to extradite Father Klep, 60, when a request was lodged, he said.
"He is wanted on charges in Victoria," Senator Ellison said. "They are state matters and the process is that the state authorities have to request the Commonwealth for an extradition request to be made. That has not been forthcoming... and we accordingly cannot act until we receive that request.
"If we receive that request we will give it immediate attention."
Victorian police would not say why a request had not been made. A spokeswoman said a request was now being prepared.
Klep was convicted in 1994 of six offences against a student in the 1970s. He served nine months of community service.
Victorian police issued a warrant for his arrest in 1998 on five further charges of assaulting students during the 1970s.
Senator Ellison said he understood that federal and Victorian police were monitoring the situation.
"I am very concerned about this issue and I understand the concern of the Samoan authorities," he said. "I cannot request extradition from a foreign country until I have the relevant jurisdiction in Australia making that request to me. If it was a Commonwealth matter I could do that."
Father Klep's case came to light in a US paper, The Dallas Morning News, which mounted an 18-month worldwide investigation into the Salesians, one of the largest Catholic orders.
Father Ian Murdoch, leader of the Salesians in Australia, issued a statement denying that the posting of Father Klep to Samoa was an attempt to keep him out of reach of authorities.
- with AAP
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.