Alberta judge refuses to move forward with extradition for woman who fled France

EDMONTON — A judge has delivered a legal victory to a mother who fled to Alberta from France with her two children over allegations her ex-husband sexually abused the youngsters.

The Crown, representing France, had asked the court to dismiss an application from the woman, which was holding up her extradition hearing.

In a written ruling released Monday, Justice Anna Loparco of Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton refused. She said the allegations of sexual abuse need to be examined further by French authorities.

The court decision says the woman, who can’t be identified, had initiated divorce proceedings in 2015 and complained to French police that her children had been abused.

Police closed the investigation in 2017 without charges, so the woman left France with her children before the divorce was finalized and relocated to Alberta. When she didn’t return, her ex-husband went to police and filed a complaint.

A French court subsequently awarded full custody to the father and issued an arrest warrant for the woman on abduction charges. The Canadian government is seeking to extradite her back to France, but she has filed an abuse of process application.

In her ruling refusing to throw the application out, Loparco said she reviewed the woman’s affidavit and those of the children and it is clear that the allegations of sexual assault need to be more fully reviewed.

“The disclosure, on its face, could amount to sexual abuse. Taken at its highest the evidence reveals that the French police failed to prosecute a crime,” she wrote.

“Her evidence should be fully explored to determine if there was misconduct by the French police or courts leading to the extradition process that could result in serious injustice if the extradition hearing were to proceed.”

Loparco said the woman’s position is that French police and courts failed to protect her children and left her with no choice but to flee the country.

“She argues that the extradition process … is being used to force her to … leave her children behind in Canada or to return them to the hands of a sexual predator,” Loparco wrote.

The ruling opens the door for the woman to seek a stay of proceedings on the extradition order.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2020

By Bill Graveland in Calgary

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

The Canadian Press

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