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French Court Frees Former Hippie Guru Ira Einhorn, Rejecting U

December 4, 1997

French Court Frees Former Hippie Guru Ira Einhorn, Rejecting U.S. Request for Extradition of Man Wanted for 1977 Murder of His GirlfriendBy NICOLAS MARMIE

BORDEAUX, France (AP) _ A French court today ordered the release of a man American authorities want for the 1977 murder of his girlfriend, rejecting a U.S. request to extradite the former hippie guru.

Ira Einhorn, the 57-year-old former anti-war activist, futurist and adviser to Philadelphia’s rich and powerful, should go free, said the Court of Appeals in the southwestern city of Bordeaux.

``Thank you,″ Einhorn told presiding Judge Claude Arrighi.

U.S. authorities wanted Einhorn to return to serve a life sentence following his 1993 conviction in absentia for murdering Holly Maddux of Tyler, Texas, and stuffing her body into a steamer trunk.

The court’s chief prosecutor appealed the rejection to France’s highest court, a motion that itself cannot keep Einhorn in jail or even prevent him from leaving the country.

However, immediately after Arrighi ruled, a judge in nearby Angoulem issued a warrant demanding that Einhorn be brought there for questioning on his immigration status. Einhorn entered France on a false passport, and authorities must determine whether he can stay. The judge could briefly hold Einhorn for questioning or release him as early as this evening.

Einhorn also could face charges for using false documents in France, where he had been living under an assumed name.

Jeff Brigham, a lawyer from the U.S. Embassy who was at the hearing, declined to comment.

In Philadelphia, Einhorn’s mother Bea Einhorn said, ``There are no words about how I feel about this. I’m just happy and very glad. I just want to talk to him.″

French law calls for a retrial for any person convicted in absentia. France also has abolished capital punishment, and French authorities had sought guarantees that U.S. prosecutors would not seek the death penalty in the event of a retrial.

Einhorn had been convicted by a court in Pennsylvania, which does not provide for a new trial in case of a conviction in absentia.

``The United States has learned today to its distress that it still has lessons to learn from old Europe in matters of human rights,″ said Dominique Delthil, one of Einhorn’s French lawyers.

The French court had postponed the extradition decision three times, saying it needed more documents.

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