The new law is intended to satisfy a French requirement for his extradition.
By Robert Moran, Philadelphia Inquirer Harrisburg bureau
HARRISBURG -- Gov. Ridge yesterday signed into law a measure that would grant a new trial for convicted murderer Ira Einhorn, who remains a fugitive in France because authorities there refuse to extradite him. A French judicial panel had ruled that it would not return Einhorn to the United States because Pennsylvania law had no provision for giving him a new trial. Einhorn was convicted in absentia five years ago for the 1977 murder of his girlfriend, H**** M*****. He fled the United States in 1981, just before his original trial was to have begun. Last June, Einhorn was arrested in France, where he was living under an assumed name. "Murderers should not be able to escape justice by fleeing this country," Ridge said in a statement. The General Assembly approved the legislation last week. The Einhorn provision was effective immediately upon the governor's signing.
"We're hopeful that the French courts will recognize that we have eliminated Einhorn's argument against extradition," said Ronald Eisenberg, a deputy Philadelphia district attorney.
Last Thursday, State Attorney General Mike Fisher and Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham urged the U.S. State and Justice Departments to push for Einhorn's extradition.
Late last year, 35 members of Congress sent a letter urging French President Jacques Chirac to grant Philadelphia's request to have Einhorn returned.
As for a timetable for the French courts, Einsenberg said "there may be some kind of decision in the next few months."
Norris E. Gelman, an attorney for Einhorn, said he was struck by how swiftly the law was passed and then signed by the governor. He also said that such legislation should not be directed at one individual. "The law, in my mind, is completely unconstitutional," he said.
Einhorn, who has maintained that CIA agents out to discredit his research in artificial intelligence planted M*****'s body in his apartment, continues to live with his Swedish wife in a village in southwest France.
Reached by telephone at his home in France last week, Einhorn said he was not aware of the legislature's action but did "appreciate" being told. Asked if he was going to come back to the United States, he replied, "No," and hung up.
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