Delhi court asks Centre to extradite priest wanted in sex abuse case in US

September 7, 2014

Protests in Delhi against sexual assault. Representational image. Agencies.

New Delhi: A Delhi court has recommended that the Centre should extradite to the US a fugitive criminal, who was serving as a priest in Minnesota. The accused is wanted in the US to face trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. The court said that prima facie a case was made out for extraditing Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the girl who, according to records, is undergoing treatment for post traumatic stress disorder.

"... I am of the considered opinion that prima facie case is made out for extradition of fugitive criminal Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul to the requesting state to stand trial.

"Hence, I hereby recommend to Union of India the extradition of fugitive criminal Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul to the requesting state i.e. US," Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ajay Garg said. The Ministry of External Affairs, through special public prosecutor Naveen Kumar Matta, had moved the court saying that a request was received from the US in February 2011 seeking extradition of Jeyapaul to stand trial in the case.

Giving details of records received from US Embassy, the ministry told the court that Jeyapaul was serving as a priest in three churches in Minnesota and had allegedly met the girl during a conference. It said that the girl went to the church in 2004 when he allegedly sexually assaulted her and continued to abuse her till August 2005, while referring to the documents received from the USA.

If convicted for offences alleged against him there, the accused may get a jail term of up to 30 years. The prosecutor also argued before the court that Jeyapaul had repeatedly threatened the girl of dire consequences if she disclosed about the incident to anyone and a warrant for his arrest was issued on December 28, 2010 by a court in Roseau County there.

During the adjudication of the matter, the accused, who came back to India in August 2005, denied all the allegations levelled against him.

The fugitive criminal claimed in the court that he was not involved in any crime and the case was lodged against him due to discrimination. His counsel told the court that Jeyapaul returned to India on August 31, 2005 to see his ailing mother and no complaint was lodged against him till then. Countering his submissions, the prosecutor told the court that documents received from the US were sufficient to arrive at a conclusion that prima facie a case of extradition was made out against the accused.

The court, after hearing the arguments and going through the records, recommended the government to extradite Jeyapaul saying that chances of false implication of the accused were ruled out. "The instant case is based on the testimony of a young girl, duly investigated by competent authorities who has no concern with the appointment of fugitive criminal as a priest.

"Therefore, chances of false implication of the fugitive criminal are prime facie ruled out. Further, fugitive criminal would get an opportunity to raise his defence and assail the prosecution case at the time of trial," the court said.


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