HC dismisses Catholic priest's plea against extradition to US

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Tuesday dismissed a plea against an extradition order by Catholic priest Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, who was accused of molesting a child in the US in 2004.

Justice Pratibha Rani rejected the plea, saying it was "premature" as the Centre has not taken any decision yet.

Jeyapaul, 59, challenged the trial court order recommending his extradition to the US to stand trial there.

The trial court recently said that "prima facie", the case was made out for his extradition.

If extradited, Jeyapaul will stand trial on charges of a "first degree criminal sexual conduct" in Minnesota, US.

The priest has been charged with molesting a 14-year-old girl in the US in 2004 when he was at a pastoral ministry at Roseau county of Crookston Diocese in Minnesota.

The priest had reportedly met the girl at a youth conference in 2004, and allegedly abused her for nearly a year till he left for India Aug 28, 2005, after which he maintained a low profile.

A year later in December 2006, the teenaged girl filed a criminal complaint against him, accusing him of sexual assault.

In 2010, Archbishop of Madras Mylapore A.M. Chinnappa asked Jeyapaul to return to the US to face charges.

On Feb 1, 2011, the US embassy in New Delhi sent a diplomatic note to the external affairs ministry requesting the extradition of Jeyapaul.

On receipt of the request, the ministry March 8, 2011, approached the trial court here for determining whether a prima facie case exists for Jeyapaul's extradition.

Jeyapaul was arrested March 16, 2012, at Chimitahalli near Sathyamangalam in Erode district and has since been lodged in the Tihar Jail.

The charge against him carries a maximum punishment of 30 years in jail in the US.

According to the extradition treaty between India and the US, an offence punishable with more than one year in jail is extraditable.