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Ex-Priest From NZ Loses Extradition Fight In Britain

A former Roman Catholic priest wanted for trial on sex abuse charges in his native New Zealand has lost his legal fight against extradition from Britain.
Alan Woodcock, 55, argued that it would be unjust or oppressive if he was sent back because many of the charges against him involving 11 different boys related to events more than 20 years ago.
He also claimed it would be impossible to have a fair trial.
In a ruling Friday, Lord Justice Simon Brown at the High Court in London said there may never have been a case in English legal history where someone had been extradited after a lapse of 15 years from the alleged offences.
"In my judgment, however, there can be no cut-off point beyond which extradition must inevitably be regarded as unjust or oppressive," Justice Brown said.
The judge added that he had taken into account that the charges related to "grave offences" - mostly against minors involving a serious abuse of Woodcock's position of trust as a priest and teacher.
Woodcock was detained on August 6, 2002 by the Metropolitan Police extradition squad at the request of New Zealand police for "alleged indecencies on male students" between 1982 and 1985, New Zealand police said at the time.
He was returning to Britain from Greece when he was arrested at Luton airport, north-west of London.
Woodcock, who lived in south London, has not practised as a priest since 1995 and gave up the priesthood for good last year.

AFP- (15-11-2003)




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