French Court Rejects U
French Court Rejects U.S. Request for Extradition of Former Hippie Guru Wanted for 1977 Murder of His GirlfriendBy NICOLAS MARMIE
BORDEAUX, France (AP) _ A French court today rejected a U.S. extradition request and ordered the release of a former hippie guru who was convicted in absentia for the 1977 murder of his girlfried.
Ira Einhorn, the 57-year-old former anti-war activist, futurist and adviser to Philadelphia’s rich and powerful, was not immediately freed because another court wanted to question him on his immigration status.
The Court of Appeals in the southwestern city of Bordeaux did not explain why it refused to hand over Einhorn to the Americans. But French law calls for a retrial for any person convicted in absentia.
``Thank you,″ Einhorn told presiding Judge Claude Arrighi.
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.
Immediately after Arrighi ruled, a judge in nearby Angouleme 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.
Einhorn also could face charges for using false documents in France, where he had been living under an assumed name.
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.
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.″
But Joel Rosen, the Philadelphia assistant district attorney who won the conviction, said he was disgusted.
``I’m sick to my stomach,″ Rosen said. ``He’s an American citizen, he’s not French. He killed an American citizen, not a French citizen. He killed in American, not in France. We have an extradition treaty with France.″
Norris Gelman, Einhorn’s lawyer during the 1993 trial, said he never doubted the French court would reject the extradition. Many nations hold trials in absentia in low esteem, he said.
The French court had postponed the extradition decision three times, saying it needed more documents.
``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.