Samoa considers deporting priests

Samoan authorities will decide within 48 hours whether to deport two more Salesian priests to Australia following the deportation last week of convicted pedophile Father Frank Klep.

Klep was arrested on his return to Melbourne and remanded on five charges of indecent assault at the Salesian boarding school Rupertswood, in Sunbury, between 1973 and 1976.

In 1994, he was convicted in Melbourne on four counts relating to the indecent assault of two boys at Rupertswood and sentenced to nine months' community service.

Samoan authorities declared Klep a permanently prohibited immigrant and are investigating whether to deport the former head of the Salesian order in Australia, Father John Murphy, who allegedly witnessed Klep's "false declaration" that he had never been convicted of a criminal offence. They are also investigating Father John Ayers, who worked in Victoria and who is at the Salesian Order of Don Bosco in Samoa.

The Klep deportation followed allegations that the Salesians in Australia and elsewhere moved priests around after they had been accused of sexual abuse.

The chief executive of Samoa's Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Poloma Komiti, yesterday said the Transnational Crime Unit was working with the Australian Federal Police to check the backgrounds of several priests.

He would not confirm how many were being checked, but said a decision was expected in a day or two.