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Court hears priest extradition case

Defense questions legality of warrant and arrest, accused says he will prove his innocence

The Patiala House courts The Patiala House courts
  • Rita Joseph, New Delhi
  • India
  • April 4, 2012
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A Catholic priest charged with sexual assault in the US appeared today in a Delhi court hearing the case for his extradition.

Father Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, 57, told the magistrate the molestation charge against him is “absolutely false”.

Fr Jeyapaul is accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl in 2004 when he was parish priest of Blessed Sacrament Church in Minnesota.

His lawyers filed an application to dismiss the case, as they claimed the allegation is “baseless” and the arrest “illegal.”

They argued that Fr Jeyapaul’s arrest on March 16 in Tamil Nadu following an Interpol alert was illegal since “neither was a warrant served on him nor was he produced in a court” as mandated by law.

Special Public Prosecutor Navin Krishna Giri sought time to answer the charge and the magistrate fixed April 21 for the next hearing.

Last year, the Indian priest grabbed international headlines following media reports he allegedly molested a teenager while serving in the US.

In July last year, Crookston diocese where he worked from September 2004 to August 2005 agreed to pay a US$750,000 settlement to the alleged victim.

Fr Jeyapaul was suspended by Ootacamund diocese following a canonical trial, said diocesan spokesman Fr Sebastian Selvanathan.

However, he said the diocese has not received any complaints from any other parishes or schools in which the priest had worked.

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