The Canadian government said Wednesday that France has denied an extradition request for Johannes Rivoire, a former priest accused of crimes against children in the northern territory of Nunavut.
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada made the extradition request for Rivoire, who was in Canada from the early 1960s until 1993 but now lives in France.
Rivoire, who has denied any wrongdoing, is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant after being charged in February with one count of indecent assault on a female. The alleged victim was a child at the time of the offense, which occurred between January 1974 and December 1979.
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The prosecution service said in a news release that French authorities denied the extradition request because French law prohibits the extradition of its own citizens and too much time has passed between the events and the charges being laid. The latter issue also prevents French authorities from prosecuting Rivoire in France, the release said.
“All potential legal recourse to obtain Johannes Rivoire’s extradition from France or prosecution in France are exhausted,” the release said.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller says in a tweet that it is heartbreaking to see “this grave injustice continue.″
Rivoire, who is in his 90s, had previously avoided trial for multiple allegations of sexual abuse linked to his time as a priest in Nunavut.
A 10-member delegation representing Nunavut Inuit traveled to France last month and met with Rivoire hoping to persuade him to return to Canada.
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Rivoire refused, delegation members told a news conference at the time.
The prosecution service said it is working with the RCMP for Interpol to issue a Red Notice which would allow Rivoire to be arrested in any other country.