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Police question Belgian priest wanted in Canada abuse probe

Police questioned a convicted Belgian priest who faces complaints of sexual abuse in Canada, but stopped short of an arrest in the absence of extradition moves, a judicial source said Monday.

Eric Dejaeger, 63, a Flemish priest who worked as a missionary with Inuits in the 1970s, was sentenced in 1990 to five years behind bars for the rape of eight children before being released after 18 months.

Fresh allegations emerged in 1995, leading to Dejaeger’s return to Belgium last year, and he contacted police in Louvain, near Brusssels, on Monday morning, after which he was interviewed, a spokesman for prosecutors said.

The official said he was not arrested owing to the “lack of a judicial basis,” or an extradition order, despite being flagged on an Interpol list for the past nine years.

Louvain prosecutors said they had asked Canadian authorities for additional information. Dejaeger had told Belgian media in advance he would give himself up.

Rocked by revelations of 13 suicides among an avalanche of abuse testimony, Belgium’s Catholic Church vowed on Monday to listen to its victims but steered clear of any witch hunt.