Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]
May 24, 2021
By Ryan Dagur
Covid-19 lockdown prevents Richard Daschbach and lawyers from traveling to the courthouse
[Photo above: Richard Daschbach waves from a police van before the start of his trial on Feb. 22. (Photo: YouTube)]
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a district court in Timor-Leste to postpone the resumption of a trial of an ex-priest accused of sexually abusing children for the third time.
The trial of Richard Daschbach, 84, an American national and former Divine Word priest, was originally scheduled to resume on May 24 in a court in Oecusse, Timor-Leste’s small coastal enclave surrounded on three sides by Indonesia, located 200 kilometers west of the capital Dili.
Julio Nunes, the court secretary, said Daschbach, his lawyer and a prosecutor failed to appear in court. “The trial was supposed to start at 9am but they didn’t show up,” he told UCA News.
He said the judge decided to reschedule the hearing to June 7.
The absence of the key players in the trial was due to a lockdown imposed in Dili to curb the spread of Covid-19 which prevented them from leaving for Oecusse, Nunes said.
The country has so far recorded 5,637 cases in total and 13 deaths.
Nunes said other cases being heard at the court continued as usual.
When asked why the court did not try the ex-priest via video link, Nunes replied: “We’ve never tried using video link because there are no facilities for that.”It was the third time Daschbach’s trial had been postponed since the trial began in February. The court was due to hear the testimony of at least three victims on May 24.
A source close to the victims said the court was not being fair on them by delaying proceedings further.
“The victims have been waiting a long time to testify and even had to quarantine for 14 days to prepare for this,” the source said.