Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 11, 2012 - 5:01 am

While Nunavut denies medical care, Dejaeger awaits arraignment

Ailing priest suffers from heart condition, high blood pressure

DAVID MURPHY

The arraignment of the alleged sex offender, Oblate missionary Eric Dejaeger, has been pushed back once more until Oct. 1.

An arraignment, a formal reading of all the charges laid against Dejaeger, which currently sits at 77, was supposed to have been held Sept. 10, but this was held over so that Crown and defense lawyers can review the final disclosure of charges laid by the RCMP.

The disclosure of the full case against Dejeager has yet to be filed in court, and will likely be worked out at an informal pretrial conference, set to take place before his next court appearance.

“That may include discussion of possible pleas, the lack of, or likelihood, of entering guilty pleas, discussions about sentencing, and so on,” Crown prosecutor Barry Nordin told Nunatsiaq News.

Dejaeger has now served 19 months in solitary confinement since his arrest.

Justice Robert Kilpatrick said he is upset about the hold up in the case, saying he wants to “see something happen” at the next court date.

This isn’t the first time the arraignment has been adjourned, the last time being back in July.

But the case is taking a long time for good reason, Nordin said.

“I think that it was probably 19 months that was necessary in order to proceed with an informed charge,” Nordin said. “I think that you want to ensure that things are done thoroughly.”

“We’re talking about a police investigation for crimes that are alleged to have occurred 25, 30 years ago. So we do want to make sure every potential complainant has an opportunity to be heard.”

To the dismay of Kilpatrick, Dejaeger did not appear at the Nunavut Court of Justice, even though Kilpatrick had previously ordered him in July to show up in court.

Defense lawyer Malcolm Kempt said his client does not want to appear unless it is absolutely necessary.

Kempt also complained that the Government of Nunavut is refusing to provide medical treatment to Dejaeger.

Dejaeger suffers from ailments such as high blood pressure and a heart condition, and he was supposed to have been seen by a specialist earlier this summer.

Kempt said the GN refused to pay for the treatment because Dejaeger is not a resident of Nunavut.

Dejaeger, a native of Belgium who gave up his Belgian citizenship to become a Canadian citizen in the 1970s, studied at Newman Theological college in Edmonton and became a Roman Catholic priest.

Once ordained, he moved to Igloolik and lived there from 1978 to about 1982. He then left for Baker Lake, and stayed there until about 1989.

Dejaeger spent time in Belgium until, in late 2010, the Belgium government discovered Dejaeger was not a citizen of their country, and flew him back to Canada in January of 2011.

As soon as Dejaeger set foot in Canada, police arrested him and flew him to Nunavut. He has been held in custody ever since.

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