Rev. Eric Dejaeger, a Roman Catholic priest accused of sex crimes against Inuit children in Nunavut in the 1970s and '80s, has arrived in Canada from Belgium, where he had been living for more than 15 years.
Dejaeger arrived on a flight from Brussels to Montreal on Wednesday afternoon, a member of the flight crew confirmed to CBC News.
The crew member said Dejaeger was accompanied by a law enforcement official, but it was not clear if the official is a member of the Belgian police or the RCMP.
The 63-year-old priest is wanted on six charges three counts of indecent assault on a male and three counts of buggery related to alleged incidents between 1978 and 1982 in Igloolik, a remote Arctic community in what is now Nunavut.
The Nunavut Court of Justice issued a warrant for Dejaeger's arrest in 2002, in connection with the Igloolik charges. By then, Dejaeger was living freely in Belgium, where he was born.
Dejaeger left Canada five years after he pleaded guilty in 1990 to nine counts of sex crimes against boys and girls in Baker Lake, another Inuit community in Nunavut. He was sentenced to five years in prison, but it's not clear how much of that sentence he served.
Expelled from Belgium
Earlier this month, Belgian immigration officials detained Dejaeger and said they would expel him from the country because he had overstayed his legal residency there.
While Dejaeger was originally from Belgium, he became a Canadian citizen in 1977, according to Belgian officials.
RCMP said Dejaeger will be flown from Montreal to Iqaluit on Thursday. Once in the territorial capital, Deajeger is expected to make an appearance on the charges against him at the local courthouse.
Igloolik Mayor Lucassie Ivalu told CBC News that he has spoken to one of Dejaeger's alleged victims, and that man is expected to testify against the priest should the case go to trial.
Ivalu, who remembers when Dejaeger was stationed in the Arctic hamlet, said it will be difficult for people to relive a painful chapter in the community's history.
"You try and imagine how much they have suffered, and how much they will suffer more until they can at least freely talk about what they've been done to," Ivalu told CBC News on Tuesday.
Dejaeger came to Canada from Belgium in 1973. He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest of the Oblate order and eventually began work as a missionary in the Arctic, where he served in several communities.
Igloolik, which has a population of more than 1,500 today, is located on the northwest tip of Hudson Bay.
Ivalu said Igloolik had welcomed Dejaeger in the 1970s and '80s, and many residents liked and trusted the priest.
"He seemed as though he was very honest and very decent man," Ivalu said. "He could talk to anybody."
But when it was revealed that Dejaeger was charged with sex crimes, Ivalu said the community's warmth turned into anger.
"You know whenever I think about him, there was a bit of hatred in my heart," he said.
Dejaeger's crimes in Baker Lake were committed between 1982 and 1989, involved inappropriate touching to the rape of two boys who occasionally slept overnight at the mission residence. One boy was victimized by Dejaeger from the time he was 10 years old until he was 17.