Highlands & Islands

Fort Augustus Abbey monk appears at extradition hearing in Sydney

Fr Denis Chrysostom Alexander
Image caption Fr Denis Chrysostom Alexander denies the allegations

A former Catholic monk accused of child abuse at a Scottish school has appeared in court in Australia facing extradition.

Father Denis "Chrysostom" Alexander was one of several monks accused of abusing boys at the former Fort Augustus Abbey boarding school in the Highlands.

He has always denied the allegations.

He appeared via a video link at the hearing in Sydney and was refused bail. The full extradition case is set to be heard in May.

In 2013, Father Alexander was confronted by BBC Scotland in Australia as part of a documentary into alleged abuse by monks at the school, which prompted a major police investigation.

Image caption The allegations relate to the former Fort Augustus Abbey Roman Catholic boarding school

The BBC's correspondent in Sydney, Phil Mercer, attended the latest court hearing.

He said: "His lawyer argued that he should be released given his age, a lack of mobility and various medical conditions.

"It was discussed in court that Father Alexander has diabetes and hypertension and a history of falls, and the lawyer said that the former priest was not a flight risk and that his incarceration was punitive.

"A lawyer for the British government said that being held in custody would not harm Father Alexander's health, and he also suggested that the former monk might be a flight risk, that he could be driven to a Benedictine monastery somewhere in Australia to evades the authority."

After hearing from both sides, the magistrate decided Father Alexander should remain in custody until the full extradition hearing in three months time.

The former monk's lawyer said he would fight extradition to Scotland.

Father Alexander was returned by the Catholic Church to Australia in 1979 after allegations of abuse were made by a Fort Augustus Abbey pupil, and continued working as a priest for a further 20 years or more.

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