Former Timor-Leste president Xanana Gusmao (right) with Richard Daschbach, a former priest defrocked by the Vatican for child sexual abuse. (Photo: Twitter)
A court in Timor-Leste has decided to conduct proceedings against an American ex-priest accused of child abuse by video conference after he failed to appear for the resumption of his trial for a fourth time.Richard Daschbach failed to travel from Dili to appear before a scheduled hearing 200 kilometers away at a district court in Oecussi, Timor-Leste's small coastal enclave in Indonesia, on June 7.Julio Nunes, the court secretary, confirmed to UCA News that the trial was adjourned to June 9. "He [Daschbach] is not coming to Oecusse, so the trial will be conducted by video conference," he said.Daschbach's absence was said to be due to a lockdown imposed in the capital Dili to prevent the spread of Covid-19 which made mobility difficult, but it caused disappointment for the victims who were always present in court.This postponement was the fourth since the trial started in February.
It is nerve-wracking and borderline degrading treatment towards the victims by the court
Maria Agnes Bere from Juridico Social Consultoria, a lawyers’ group that fights human rights cases and represents alleged victims, condemned the latest postponement.
“It is nerve-wracking and borderline degrading treatment towards the victims by the court,” she told UCA News.“It clearly raises a feeling of unfairness when the court keeps accepting the same excuse for the absence of the accused. How can the judges, prosecutors, lawyers for the victims and the victims be able to appear and not the accused?”A source close to the victims said the continuous delays had caused great emotional stress for them.