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Polish, Dominican authorities discuss priest trial


Polish, Dominican authorities discuss priest trial

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The chief prosecutor of the Dominican Republic called Monday for tough punishment for a Polish priest if he is convicted of abusing minors on the Caribbean island.

Francisco Dominquez Brito met with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Seremet to discuss the upcoming trial of the priest, Wojciech Gil.

The priest has been under arrest in Poland since February. He has denied charges of abusing six minors in the Dominican Republic between 2009 and 2013 and two in Poland in 2000-2001. He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Gil is being tried in Poland for all the charges because the eastern European country does not have an extradition agreement with the Dominican Republic, making it impossible to have him tried there. A Polish prosecutor and two attorneys will represent the Dominican victims in the trial before the court in Wolomin, near Warsaw.

Brito said a stern sentence was needed to prevent abuse in the future.

“We are expecting a just, high punishment that would satisfy the public opinion in the Dominican Republic,” Brito told reporters.

Seremet’s spokesman Mateusz Martyniuk told The Associated Press that Gil’s trial is expected to open in January.

On Tuesday Brito flies to the Vatican to discuss the case of Jozef Wesolowski, the suspended Polish archbishop and former Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who is also accused of sexually abusing minors there.

Poland has opened its own probe into Wesolowski’s case but cannot proceed with it because the Vatican has refused to share the evidence and other documents it had obtained from Dominican investigators, who have no copies of them, Seremet said.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in June found Wesolowski guilty of abusing boys and sentenced him to the harshest penalty possible against a cleric under canon law: laicization, meaning he can no longer perform priestly duties or present himself as a priest. He has appealed that decision but remains under house arrest because the Vatican has opened a separate criminal trial against him that could lead to a prison term if he is convicted.