Ro­hingya vil­lages burn

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Jul­has Alam

Days af­ter flee­ing their vil­lage on the Myan­mar side of the bor­der fence, a group of Ro­hingya Mus­lims watched from just in­side Bangladesh as yet an­other house went up in flames.

The vil­lagers said they had es­caped days ago, cross­ing into Bangladesh and join­ing thou­sands of other Ro­hingya hud­dling in the open in the dis­trict of Ban­dar­ban to es­cape re­cent vi­o­lence in Bud­dhist-ma­jor­ity Myan­mar.

When they crossed the bor­der, they saw mines that had been newly planted by Myan­mar forces, wit­nesses said. Thou­sands of Ro­hingya are stream­ing across the bor­der, with UN of­fi­cials and oth­ers de­mand­ing that Myan­mar halt what they de­scribe as a cam­paign of eth­nic cleans­ing that has driven nearly 400,000 Ro­hingya to flee in the past three weeks.

A high-rank­ing priest work­ing at the Vat­i­can’s em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton has been re­called af­ter US pros­e­cu­tors asked for him to be charged there and face trial in a child pornog­ra­phy in­ves­ti­ga­tion, of­fi­cials said.

The diplo­mat was sus­pected of pos­sess­ing, but not pro­duc­ing or dis­sem­i­nat­ing, child pornog­ra­phy in­clud­ing images of pre-pubescent chil­dren, a US source said.

The Vat­i­can de­clined to iden­tify the priest, but said he was back in Vat­i­can City and that Vat­i­can pros­e­cu­tors had launched their own probe. If the ac­cu­sa­tions pan out, the case would be a ma­jor em­bar­rass­ment for the Vat­i­can and Pope Fran­cis, who has pledged “zero tol­er­ance” for sex­ual abuse. The diplo­mat would be the sec­ond from the Vat­i­can’s diplo­matic corps to face pos­si­ble crim­i­nal charges for such crimes dur­ing Fran­cis’s pa­pacy.

Any trial in the Vat­i­can would come as Fran­cis’s own fi­nan­cial czar, car­di­nal Ge­orge Pell, is on trial in his na­tive Aus­tralia for al­leged his­tor­i­cal sex abuse cases.

The US State De­part­ment said that it had asked the Vat­i­can to lift the of­fi­cial’s diplo­matic im­mu­nity on Au­gust 21, but the re­quest was de­nied three days later. For the State De­part­ment to make such a re­quest, its lawyers would have needed to be con­vinced that there was rea­son­able cause for crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion.

The Vat­i­can said the State De­part­ment no­ti­fied it on Au­gust 21 of a “pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tion of laws re­lat­ing to child pornog­ra­phy images” by one of its diplomats in Wash­ing­ton. A US of­fi­cial said the priest was a se­nior mem­ber of the em­bassy staff.

The Vat­i­can said re­call­ing the priest was con­sis­tent with diplo­matic prac­tice of sov­er­eign states.

In de­clin­ing to iden­tify him, the Vat­i­can said that the case was sub­ject to con­fi­den­tial­ity while still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The Vat­i­can has re­called en­voys be­fore — in­clud­ing its for­mer am­bas­sador to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, who was re­called in 2013 af­ter be­ing ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing young boys in the Caribbean na­tion.

The Vat­i­can jus­ti­fied its de­ci­sion to re­move mon­signor Jozef Wesolowski from Do­mini­can ju­ris­dic­tion by sub­mit­ting him first to a canon­i­cal court at the Vat­i­can, and then putting him on trial in the Vat­i­can’s crim­i­nal court, which has ju­ris­dic­tion over the Holy See’s diplo­matic corps.

Wesolowski was de­frocked by the church court, but died be­fore the crim­i­nal trial started. Do­mini­can pros­e­cu­tors ini­tially baulked at the re­call, and they never filed charges be­cause of his im­mu­nity. The Vat­i­can does not have extradition treaties.

Pic­ture: The Fi­nan­cial Times/PA Wire

Paul McLean: On hol­i­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.