MISE À DAY
PARIS | France announced on Tuesday that it will not extradite to Canada a French Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting young Inuit in the 1960s.
The French Ministry of Justice unsurprisingly explained to a delegation of Inuit, who came to Paris to support this request, that it refused the extradition, requested by Canada, of the French priest Joannes Rivoire, 92 years old.
Joannes Rivoire, who resides in Lyon (center-east), but also has Canadian nationality, is the subject of an extradition request filed in early August by Ottawa. He is accused of sexually assaulting young Inuit in the 1960s when he was on a mission in the Canadian Far North, charges he disputes.
“It was recalled that, in accordance with its constitutional tradition, France does not extradite its nationals,” the Ministry of Justice told AFP after the meeting with the diplomat adviser to Minister Éric Dupond. -Moretti.
The Chancellery emphasizes that “France stands ready to respond to any request for mutual legal assistance made to it by Canada or, if necessary, to act within the framework of a denunciation of facts that would be formulated to it, subject nevertheless to examining the possible prescription of the facts”.
“For a judicial investigation to be opened in France, the Canadian judicial authorities must denounce the facts, which is not the case at this stage”, also indicated a source familiar with the matter.
So far the priest, who left Canada in 1993 after 33 years in the field, has never been worried. After a first arrest warrant between 1998 and 2017 for the sexual assault of three minors, he has been the subject of a second arrest warrant in Canada since February, after the filing of a new complaint in September 2021 for an assault. incident about 47 years ago.
The delegation was also received by the President of the Conference of Religious of France (which represents 450 institutes or Catholic congregations) Véronique Margron and the Deputy responsible for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), a congregation to which Joannes Rivoire belongs.
During this interview, the Inuit “asked (the OMI) to dismiss Joannes Rivoire from the religious state”, Ms. Margron told AFP.
For her part, she indicated that she had proposed that a “commission of historians” be created to establish the “functionings and malfunctions” that may have taken place within the Oblates, to collect all possible documents (archives, etc.), this “ in close connection” or “with the approval of the Inuit community”.
On Wednesday, the Inuit delegation will meet, at the headquarters of the congregation in Lyon, the person in charge of the OMI. Joannes Rivoire “for the moment agrees to see the delegation”, according to Ms. Margron.