NZ lawyers await ruling on extradition of brothers

With a Federal Court judgment to be handed down today in an appeal against a controversial sex abuse extradition ruling against two brothers, New Zealand's legal commentators say the outcome will be closely watched for what it says about the country's criminal justice system.

Stuff.co.nz reports that Br Rodger Moloney, 71, and Fr Raymond Garchow, 58, have been fighting extradition since their arrest nearly three years ago on charges relating to when they taught at a St John of God Order school in Christchurch.

Moloney faces 28 charges of allegedly assaulting 12 boys between 1971 and 1977 at a residential school for the disadvantaged. Garchow faces four charges, dating from between 1971 and 1980.

A full bench of five Federal Court judges in Sydney will rule on an August appeal by New Zealand authorities after Justice Rodney Madgwick earlier controversially overturned an extradition order for the two men.

Justice Madgwick based his ruling on the grounds that they would face an "unjust or oppressive" hearing because of the age of the charges and the fact that New Zealand judges were not required to point out the difficulty of such cases to jurors, as they were in Australia.

Auckland University Associate Professor of Law Scott Optican said the latest judgment would be closely watched for its attitude towards New Zealand's criminal justice system, rather than for setting precedents for rare extraditions from Australia.

"When first this issue came out there were people in New Zealand who felt that it didn't give enough deference and respect to the criminal justice processes in this country that make sure a fair trial is guaranteed," he said.

"I think the real issue in the case is going to be making sure that the judges in their decision - no matter what their decision is - take a good, hard look at the due process protections that exist in this country for ensuring the fair trial of defendants in historical sex abuse cases."

New Zealand's Canterbury Criminal Bar Association spokesman James Rapley said: "A large number of defence lawyers do have very real concerns about our trials and trial processes when it comes to sexual cases.

"Those are issues as to whether it's fair, whether things have gone too far in one direction - that is, more pro-complainant than pro-accused - and whether there needs to be some thought go into that."

He believed the case could have wider implications for future extradition attempts.

Legal eyes on extradition ruling on clergymen (Stuff.co.nz, 5/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Federal Court of Australia (Wikipedia)

Five years jail for St John of God brother (CathNews 28/4/06)
Mystery over high-profile abuse case (CathNews 26/5/05)
Extra protection for John of God accused (CathNews 16/2/05)
Marist Frs plead not guilty to sex offences (CathNews 23/7/04)
Tasmanian sex abuse crisis continues

5 Oct 2006