Dominican Republic may seek ex-Vatican envoy’s extradition

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c. 2014 Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Jozef Wesolowski, the ex-Vatican envoy stripped of diplomatic immunity after claims he sexually abused young boys in the Dominican Republic, may face a criminal trial in the Caribbean country.

Francisco Dominguez Brito, the Dominican Republic’s attorney general, issued a statement saying it was “just and positive” for the Vatican to remove Wesolowski’s immunity and that the country would consider seeking the former archbishop’s extradition so he could stand trial there.

“At this time extradition is an option. However, first we must look at the details of the Vatican’s decision,” the prosecutor said. “It is clear that since this man no longer has immunity, this can help us on the question of extradition so that he can come here and face justice.”

His comments were published on a Dominican news website and confirmed by an official at the Dominican Embassy in Rome on Tuesday (Aug. 26).

The Vatican does not have an extradition agreement with the Dominican Republic, though it is possible Italy could decide to extradite Wesolowski if he leaves the confines of the 108-acre Vatican City State.

On Monday, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Wesolowski had lost his diplomatic immunity. Lombardi said Wesolowski may now be exposed to proceedings elsewhere, where specific legal jurisdictions apply.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the Vatican had acted irresponsibly in the case and Wesolowski should be arrested immediately.

“Our fear is that he’ll ‘disappear’ before police can nab him. And we urge Vatican officials to do everything in their power to help secular authorities apprehend him before he flees,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP outreach director.

Wesolowski was recalled from Santo Domingo last August after rumors emerged in the Dominican Republic that he had sexually molested young boys. The Polish-born Wesolowski was a highly respected ambassador of the Holy See and had been ordained both as a priest and a bishop by St. John Paul II, the former pope.

In June, Wesolowski was defrocked after a Vatican tribunal found him guilty under canon law of abusing young boys. He recently appealed that sentence and a final decision is expected in October, Lombardi said.

Polish authorities have also been looking to extradite the former archbishop and it is unclear whether Warsaw will make a fresh request.