A judge in Kosovo has rejected an application to extradite Laurence Soper, the fugitive former abbot of Ealing Abbey in west London, because the crimes he is accused of have expired in the Balkan state.
The Times reported that the Metropolitan Police will appeal the decision to bring Laurence Soper back to the UK for trial. Soper, 72, is wanted in connection with historic child sex abuse cases in England. The former monk, who is no longer a member of the Ealing community, taught at the abbey school, St Benedict’s, in the 1970s and 1980s.
He disappeared from the Benedictine university at Sant’Anselmo in Rome, where he had been working as bursar, in 2011, after failing to return to London for further police questioning about alleged abuse.
A judge sitting in Peja, the western district of Kosovo where Soper was arrested last month, rejected the extradition request this week because the alleged crimes had overrun the 30-year statute of limitations. The Met will appeal and another hearing is expected to take place imminently at the appeal court in the capital, Pristina, The Times reported.
Mr Soper taught at St Benedict’s from 1972 to 1984 and was abbot at Ealing for nine years until 2000. He also served as part-time chaplain at Harrow School and as a visiting chaplain at Feltham young offender institution, but no charges relate to his roles at either establishment.
In 2010, Soper was arrested and questioned after an allegation of historical sexual abuse by a man in his forties. At the time he was not charged but allowed to retain his passport and return to Rome, Italy. From there Soper disappeared after a warrant for his arrest was issued until he was arrested only recently by Kosovan authorities.