S.Africa extradites German priest on sex abuse charges

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JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – A German Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse of children in his native country and in South Africa has been extradited to Germany, police said Wednesday.

Georg Kerkhoff, who is in his 50s, was put on a plane to Germany on Tuesday night, South African police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini told AFP.

“We took him to the airport and handed him over to the German police. He will face trial in Germany,” he said.

Originally from Aachen in West Germany, Kerkhoff is wanted for alleged sex crimes against children committed before he moved several years ago to South Africa, where he was arrested on similar charges.

Four boys — then aged nine and 10 — who attended a German-language Catholic youth camp near Johannesburg in 2008 complained about offers to sleep in the priest’s bed and inappropriate fondling.

Those charges were dropped to clear the way for Kerkhoff’s extradition, prosecutors said.

“We did withdraw the case on the basis that we would prefer that he be extradited to Germany,” National Prosecution Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube told AFP.

The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has denied having any connection with Kerkhoff or inviting him to work in the country.

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