|Fugitive Priest May Be Extradited to Canada
September 16, 2010
Canada is working with the Belgian government to send a Catholic priest to Nunavut to face child sex charges, an RCMP spokesman said Thursday.
Crown prosecutors in Iqaluit, along with Canada's Justice Department and the Belgian government, are aiming to extradite Rev. Eric Dejaeger, Nunavut RCMP Sgt. Jimmy Akavak said in an email to CBC News.
However, federal justice officials in Ottawa say they cannot confirm or deny that an extradition request has been made in Dejaeger's case.
Dejaeger, 63, has been on Interpol's list of wanted fugitives for "crimes against children" since a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Nunavut Court of Justice in April 2002.
He faces a total of six criminal charges — two counts of indecent assault and four counts of buggery — in connection with alleged offences between 1978 and 1982 in Igloolik, a remote Arctic community in what is now Nunavut.
Nunavut court documents show that in 1990, Dejaeger had pleaded guilty to a number of sex crimes against children in another Nunavut community, Baker Lake, between 1982 and 1989.
News reports from that time indicate Dejaeger was sentenced to five years in prison.
Contacted Belgian authorities
Earlier this week, Dejaeger had made contact with Belgian justice authorities, who questioned the priest before releasing him.
Prosecutors have said Dejaeger was released because he is presently not wanted on charges in Belgium and no Canadian extradition order was in place.
On Wednesday, Belgium's Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement saying Dejaeger, who was born in that country, no longer has Belgian citizenship because he became a Canadian citizen in 1977.
The Belgian ministry also noted that Dejaeger did not inform Belgian authorities that he had become a Canadian citizen, and he gave "false information about his nationality" to Belgian consular officials in Canada.
Should Dejaeger be extradited, he would likely be brought to the Nunavut Court of Justice to answer to the six charges.
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