Top extradition lawyers concerned over extradition of monk
Concerns have risen over extradition delay of Roman Catholic monk
Concerns have been raised over the delay of an extradition of a Roman Catholic Monk who has been accused of abuse. The concerns revolve around the handling of the extradition. The Catholic Monk is at the centre of a child sex abuse scandal. The Crown office, who have been in charge of the investigation, have been critisised for their handling of the extradition. However, top extradition lawyers have commented on the case saying that there are understandable reasons why the case is progressing slowly.
Father Denis "Chrysostom" Alexander, now 80 years old, is just one of several monks who has been accused of abusing boys at the former Fort Augustus Abbey boarding school. The school was based in the Highlands of Scotland.
BBC Scotland created a documentary in 2013 about the school and the abuse that occurred there. They confronted the former monk in Australia, where he was residing. In December of 2015, the Crown Office released an announcement stating that plans were in place to bring Father Dennis Alexander back from Australia.
However, on Monday 19th December 2016, Father Alexander, claimed he was not aware of extradition plans for him. This statement has fueled fears that the extradition process is stalling. Father Alexander has continued to deny the claims that he abused any boys.
The Crown Office, the organisation responsible for prosecuting individuals within Scotland, received the police report on Father Alexander over three years ago, around one year ago they announced their plans to extradite him.
The case is now in the hands of the Attorney General.
One of the alleged victims of Father Alexander spoke to the BBC and voiced his frustration at the delays. He believes that Father Alexander may never face trial.
Hugh Kennedy, who is now 53, stated that he suffered continued abuse at the hands of Father Alexander during his time at the private Catholic boarding school in the Highlands. The School has since been closed. Kennedy went on to say that he is frustrated by the time it took the Crown Office to prepare a case against Father Alexander. Kennedy spoke out about the case saying that the problem is that they, the victims, are placated. There letters are answered but not the questions within them. He believes that the authorities want the victims to disappear when a resolution has not been achieved. Kennedy concluded by saying that nothing has changed. They are where they were last year. His expectations over Father Alexander being tried in court have been reduced to almost zero.
The Crown Office released a statement which held that they are unable to comment on legal matters in other jurisdictions. The Attorney General's office in Canberra refused to respond when questioned about the case.
A top extradition lawyer, working with Scottish authorities, has commented on the case and held that the Crown Office are doing everything in their power to extradite Father Alexander. He stated that the process is under the control of another jurisdiction but the Crown Office are doing their upmost to help return the 80-year-old to Scotland.
Father Alexander was returned to Australia, by the Catholic Church, in 1979. He was returned after allegations surfaced about abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey. The allegations came from another pupil, who had spoken with the BBC.
Australian authorities stated that there were no warnings provided about Father Alexander’s alleged offending behavior. There was also no report to the Australian Catholic Church about the behavior he was accused of, he was thus able to continue in his role as a priest for over 20 years.
Father Alexander was stripped of all priestly facilities in 2013. He has however continued to deny all allegations.
The BBC contacted Father Alexander on Monday, he stated that the Australian Church were continuing to show him support over the allegations, he went on to state that he knew nothing about a supposed extradition. Father Alexander said he is not prepared to willingly return to Scotland to face charges of child molestation. According to top extradition lawyers, individuals rarely return willingly to a country that has requested their extradition.
The Roman Catholic Church were contacted about the extradition, they claim to have no knowledge of an extradition but have stated that they will be fully cooperating with the Scottish Authorities.
Stephen Jones, Scottish MP, has said that although the request was made over a year ago, it is not being dismissed and they are pushing for the extradition to occur as soon as possible.
There is a similar case being brought to trial next month in Scotland. In January of 2017, another former monk that taught at Fort Augustus boarding school will stand trial for claims of child molestation. This case has been under consideration for over 18 months. Showing the time and difficulty involved in prosecuting such a case.
The Crown Office are aware of the frustration caused to the victims because of this delay in justice. They understand that the process can be upsetting for those who have made complaints against Father Alexander, but are working hard to see him returned to Scotland.
A top extradition lawyer commented on the delay of the extradition and said that the delay is probably due to the usual issues that surround extradition but also the fact building a case against an individual, when the allegation is of historical sexual abuse, is extremely difficult. He went on to say that this is due to a number of factors, these include the number of accusations that are made and also the accused have often supposedly committed the offences in various locations around the world. He concluded that the time that has elapsed between reporting the offence and the alleged offence occurring has meant that important witnesses who previously could have attested to the charges are no longer around or are unable to testify in court.