SA frees German priest paedophile suspect on bail

2013-09-21 09:16

South Africa has released a German Catholic priest, wanted for child abuse in Germany, on bail but will put him on trial in November for committing similar acts in this country, sources said.

The priest, whose identity was not given but who was said to be in his fifties and from Aachen in western Germany, was arrested on September 13 as he left a court in the northern town of Brits where he was standing trial for assault and acts of indecency.

The arrest was based on an international warrant and a German extradition request issued several years ago, sources familiar with the case said.

Bail was set at R5 000 and his release was conditional on staying in KwaZulu-Natal province where he is being hosted by the Ishowe diocese.

The trial will open on November 8.

The acts of indecency were allegedly committed in 2008 on four boys then aged nine and 10, some of German origin, who attended a German-language Catholic youth camp near Johannesburg.

They had complained about offers to sleep in the priest’s bed and inappropriate fondling.

After November’s hearing the priest could be extradited to Germany.

Contacted by AFP Archbishop William Slattery, who spoke for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said the Church “didn’t invite him nor appointed him to work for us”.

“He came with some cases pending in Germany, he has been in this country for a number of years, how many I don’t know, a few years.”

He added that the case “may return to the Church and the Church can follow up” the case when the police has finished dealing with it.

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