Dhanya Rajendran| The News Minute| October 10, 2014| 4.00 pm IST
Raymond Varley, the British citizen facing charges of sexual offences against children in India from 1989-1991 will not be extradited to India, despite India's repeated appeals. Putting an end to India's appeals and practically closing down all legal options for India, a British Court has refused India's extradition petition. The court has said that India was given ample opportunity for examination, but they didn't. Varley had claimed that he was suffering from dementia and he was not the man wanted in India for sexual crimes. It is on the basis of his claims of dementia that the court has rejected extradition plea.
66-year-old Varley is one of the accused in the Goa orphanage child sexual abuse case tracing back to 1989 which involved many foreign nationals. The racket was run by an Indian called Freddy Peats in Goa. Peats gave foreign nationals access to children in the orphanage. Back in 1991 when raids were conducted in Peat’s house the police found more than 2000 obscene images of children.
Varley has been charged by the CBI on many counts of sexual abuse including sodomy, indecent assault and and taking indecent photographs.
At least five children had identified Raymond Varley from photographs and recounted how Varley has abused them.
On May 8, 2014, a Westminster judge had rejected to grant the Indian government’s request for extradition and had accepted Raymond Varley’s claim that he was suffering from dementia.
Varley, a teacher from Halifax, procured a report from a neuro psychologist Linda Atterton who was based out of Norwich, which was 291 km away from where he lived. Varley made her report the crux of his argument against extradition. I t is however baffling how someone suffering from dementia could locate a psychologist through the internet and get the certificate.
Various activists have questioned if the neuro psychologist was qualified to declare Varley was suffering from dementia.
Varley's victory is dangerous for India. In this specific case it means that the man will never undergo trial. There will be no logical conclusion for the case.
Activists in India have also not been happy about the way the Crown Prosecution Service had fought the case on India's behalf.
It should also be of great concern to India that Varley has been allowed to get away on grounds that he has dementia, this could be a loophole that other child sex offenders can claim. The Crown Prosecution Service, activists say, never told the CBI that India could go for an independent medical evaluation.
What about the victims of child sexual abuse and other such offenders
Raymond Varley's case is not just about bringing him back to India for trial, it is also about the victims. Many child sexual abuse victims do not come out in the open, and for those who have, it is important that the legal and policing system brings the perpetrators to book.
The UK Court's rejection will enable other offenders like Johnathan Robinson (another British citizen who is wanted for similar charges) to continue with such heinous crimes without any fear of the law.
The only option in front of India now is to ask Theresa May, UK's Home Secretary to intervene.
What Varley and his defence claimed
Varley had claimed that sending him to a prison in India would be against his human rights as the prison conditions post a real risk to life. Following Varley’s accusation of Indian prisons, two experts Lord Ramsbottam and Professor Rod Morgan submitted reports in the district court found that there was nothing about Indian prison conditions that would infringe on his human rights. Rod Morgan in his report said “cultural features may be alien to him, taking account of his age medical condition and culture Raymond Varley would likely find living stressful, but I do not think it can be said his human rights would be infringed.”
Linda Atterton in her finding said Varley had “widespread moderate-severe impairment severely affecting everyday life”, but she cannot “pinpoint the type of dementia but it may be Alzheimers”.
During one of the hearings, Varley even threatened to commit suicide.
Mocking the system?
An Interpol red corner notice was issued against Raymond Varley in 2001 after a Goa court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him. But in spite of this Varley has repeatedly been moving between Thailand, Britain, Mexico and Slovania. He was finally arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, but Thai authorities sent him to Britain instead of India on whose request the Interpol notice was issued.
The Independent UK has reported that Varley had previously served time in prison in UK in the mid 1980s and “was given treatment at Wormwood Scrubs to deal with his sexual offending”.
In 1996, the CBI filed a charge sheet against many persons including Freedy Peats, Werner Ingo of Australia, E.C. McBride of New Zealand, and Nils Jonsson of Sweden. A supplementary charge sheet was filed against Raymond Andrew Varley and others.