AP NEWS

Federal bill aimed at return of convicted killers to US

March 31, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Two New Jersey congressmen have re-introduced legislation seeking the return of convicted killers living abroad.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Chris Smith and Democrat Albio Sires, would require the executive branch to report to Congress on the number of fugitives the U.S. is seeking to extradite and what is being done to secure their return.

The Walter Patterson and Werner Foerster Justice and Extradition Act is named for a Wall Township gas station owner who was slain during a robbery in 1962 and for a state trooper who was gunned down on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973.

Joanne Chesimard was found guilty in 1977 of killing Trooper Foerster, but she escaped from prison in 1979 and eventually fled to Cuba, where she was granted asylum by Fidel Castro. She is now living as Assata Shakur and is the first woman placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List.

George Wright was convicted of killing Patterson, but he escaped from prison in 1970 and later hijacked a plane. In 2011, the FBI found him living in Portugal, which has refused to extradite him.

“The process is failing far too many people, above all for those who see people who have killed their loved ones living openly abroad, apparently outside of our government’s reach,” Smith said in a statement.

The sponsors said the bill would enable officials to change policy aimed at returning fugitives to justice.

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