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Court clears extraditing U.S. fugitive

SHARE Court clears extraditing U.S. fugitive

CHAMPAGNE-MOUTON, France — The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday dropped its request to delay American Ira Einhorn's extradition, clearing the way for the convicted murderer to be sent home to the United States.

France had been preparing to extradite Einhorn last week, but agreed to wait until the European court examined the case.

The request was being dropped because Einhorn's medical condition was satisfactory and U.S. officials had provided assurances that he would not face the death penalty, the Strasbourg, France-based court said in announcing its decision.

Earlier, Einhorn had told The Associated Press that if he lost the appeal, he would go peacefully.

"If there is to be any transfer, we want it to be totally peaceful," Einhorn said in a telephone interview. "Nobody is going to be hurt."

It appeared Einhorn would likely be sent home immediately to face a new trial in Pennsylvania for the 1977 bludgeoning death of his girlfriend, Holly Maddux.

There was no immediate response from Einhorn.

Two vans of police were keeping guard outside his converted-windmill home in this southwestern French village. Einhorn, 61, stayed inside, receiving a few visitors. He ate leftovers from a party he'd thrown the night before, which he called a "Last Supper." Against a background of colored party lights, guests had chatted and sipped wine from plastic cups until late into the night.

The former anti-war activist, who has been convicted in absentia of murder, adamantly denies the killing, saying he was framed by the CIA.

A 1998 Pennsylvania law provided for a retrial, and U.S. officials promised that Einhorn would not be eligible for the death penalty because capital punishment was not legal in the state at the time of the crime.

After losing his final French appeal on July 12, Einhorn slit his throat in a dramatic gesture of protest. Though he called it a suicide attempt, he was not seriously injured, and returned home that day after receiving outpatient treatment.

Earlier Thursday, Einhorn brushed off questions about whether he planned a repeat of such self-inflicted violence. "Oh, I really do doubt that," he said, laughing.

He said he couldn't understand the need for such a heavy police guard outside his home. "If I want to do away with myself again, there's no way they can stop me," he said.

A Philadelphia police homicide detective traveled to France on Tuesday with an FBI agent and some U.S. marshals to be ready to take Einhorn into custody, Philadelphia police spokesman Cpl. Jim Pauley said Thursday.

Einhorn fled the United States in 1981, soon before he was to stand trial for the murder. Maddux's battered corpse was found stuffed in a trunk inside a closet of the Philadelphia apartment the couple shared.

Einhorn lived in England, Ireland and Sweden under pseudonyms before he was arrested in France in 1997.