Sex Crime Accused Priest Fights Extradition to US
July 2, 2013
|Patiala House in Delhi where the case is going on|
An Indian Catholic priest, who allegedly molested two teenage girls in the US nine years ago, continues to be in a New Delhi jail with his lawyer denying reports that the priest will be soon moved to the US.
Pappa Mohan, lawyer of Father Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, told ucanews.com that some Indian media wrongly reported on July 1 that the priest will be extradited to the US soon, as his bail plea was rejected last week.
"That was misrepresentation of facts. Our challenge against extradition will continue in the court of extradition in New Delhi. There is no prima facie evidence against the accused priest," Mohan said July 1.
Police in Tamil Nadu arrested Father Jeyapaul in 2012 at the request of Interpol. The 58-year old priest from Ootcamund diocese is accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl while he was working in a parish in Crookston diocese in the state of Minnesota in 2004. He is now housed in New Delhi's Tihar jail.
Recent media reports said that the Madras High Court had dismissed a Habeas Corpus petition filed by the priestís sister Pusphavathi asking the court to declare his arrest illegal and release him.
The Madras High Court has upheld the legal validity of the arrest and dismissed the Habeas Corpus writ petition, "which has nothing to do with our legal challenge in New Delhi," Mohan said. "The High Court decision was wrongly interpreted as the priest losing the extradition case," he added.
Mohan said Pushpavati filed the Habeas Corpus writ without consulting him or without the knowledge of the priest. "Such a writ has no scope of releasing the person in this case," he said.
The government of India, which has an extradition treaty with the US, has filed documents in the court, submitted by the US government. The US wants the accused priest to face trial in a US court.
Three judges who presided the extradition case in a New Delhi court were later transferred and a new judge has taken over and he has asked for some time to understand the case properly, the lawyer noted.
The next hearing for the case is scheduled for August 3 this year, he added.
If found guilty in US, the priest would be in jail for 144 months plus pay US$ 40,000 as fine or penalty, the lawyer said.
He is currently charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct.
The priest worked in the US diocese from September 2004-August 2005 at the invitation of the local bishop. According to a report on the Minnesota Public Radio website in 2010, the diocese said he also misappropriated a large amount of Church money and tried to sell a car belonging to the Church before returning to India.
In an interview with ucanews.com in April 6 2010, the priest denied all accusations and claimed innocence. He said that he was ready to face the charges at the appropriate time.
On his return to India, Ootacamund diocese suspended him.