French Free U.S. Fugitive For Now
BORDEAUX, France (AP) _ American fugitive Ira Einhorn won a new reprieve from jail Tuesday, telling a French court considering another U.S. extradition request that he has put his days of disappearing behind him.
``I will remain here. I want to live in France and stay in France,″ said the former New Age leader convicted in absentia in Pennsylvania for the 1977 murder of his girlfriend.
The prosecution had argued that mounting U.S. pressure might prompt Einhorn to flee the country. Einhorn, 57, beat an extradition request last December but was re-arrested Sept. 20.
Sporting cropped white hair, a long goatee and a suntan, Einhorn was escorted to pick up his belongings from a nearby jail.
But his time out of custody may not last long if French courts decide to extradite him. Einhorn is also required to check in weekly with police until a Dec. 1 extradition hearing.
Einhorn’s longtime Swedish companion Anika Flodin, who lived with him in a converted mill in the Bordeaux region, gasped as the ruling was read, then ran from the courtroom.
``I’m very happy. I knew it, and I’m very confident,″ she told reporters. She called the U.S. extradition request ``a legal attempt to kidnap my husband,″ adding that it was ``100 percent void of human rights.″
While at-large for 16 years, Einhorn married under his alias, Eugene Mallon, a name borrowed from an Irish friend, putting the official status of the marriage in doubt.
Defense lawyers said Tuesday they feared Pennsylvania authorities might revoke a recent law promising Einhorn a retrial if extradited. They also fear he may be given a death sentence there, which is contrary to French law.
They poured scorn on Pennsylvania’s bid to extradite him.
``A law has been made specifically for Einhorn, and this is scandalous,″ said defense lawyer Dominique Delthil, referring to a new law passed in Pennsylvania that would allow Einhorn a retrial, as France has insisted.
Einhorn appeared relaxed but focused during the approximately 50-minute hearing, often smiling at his companion.
``The reason I want to be released is because of what prison does to me,″ Einhorn told the judge. ``It has ruined my life.″
Einhorn was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for the murder of Helen ``Holly″ Maddux _ a crime he denies even though police found her corpse stuffed in a trunk in his closet.
After 16 years in hiding, Einhorn was tracked down and arrested at his home in June 1997. But in December, a French court refused to extradite Einhorn, citing a French law that would have required a retrial in Pennsylvania.
Einhorn, a prominent anti-war campaigner in the 1960s, was courted by an international network of scientists, corporate sponsors and wealthy benefactors drawn to his vision of a New Age. He became a consultant for Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania and was later a Harvard fellow.