Thursday July 12
Ex-Hippie Icon Cuts Throat to Avoid Return to U.S.
By Estelle Shirbon
PARIS (Reuters) - American Ira Einhorn's desperate bid to avoid extradition
for murder paid off against the odds when France put off returning the
former hippie icon to the United States as he lay in hospital after
slashing his throat.
The case seemed all but over when France's Council of State, the court that
has the final say on extraditions, upheld Thursday an order to send Einhorn
back to Pennsylvania to face a fresh trial for the 1977 murder of his
Einhorn apparently felt so close to losing the battle that he cut his own
throat in what his wife Anikka called ``a political act'' and his lawyers
said was a suicide attempt. The wound was not life-threatening.
Shortly after his dramatic self-wounding, Einhorn, a bloody gash well in
evidence on his throat, invited a television crew into his home in the
village of Champagne-Mouton, western France, where he has lived under house
But U.S. hopes that Einhorn was finally about to be handed over were dashed
when the French government later accepted a request by the European Court
of Human Rights to postpone the extradition at least until July 19.
At the Justice Department (news - web sites) in Washington, spokeswoman
Chris Watney expressed American disappointment at the delay.
Meanwhile, one of Einhorn's lawyers insisted he still had a realistic
chance of staying in France for good.
Claire Waquet, who appealed to the European court on Einhorn's behalf, said
she had told the court that U.S. assurances that her client would receive a
new trial could not be relied upon.
FLED UNITED STATES IN 1981
The former hippie figurehead fled the United States in 1981 shortly before
he was scheduled to face trial for the murder of Holly Maddux.
But a Pennsylvania court in 1993 sentenced Einhorn in his absence to life
imprisonment for bludgeoning Maddux to death. Years later, a French court
refused to extradite him on the grounds that he had been convicted in an
Pennsylvania then brought in a new law providing for a fresh trial if
Einhorn was sent back there, but Waquet said that law was ``too fragile.''
``Our fear is that if Mr. Einhorn returns to the United States, he might
not be granted a new trial because a judge could refuse to apply the new
law, which goes against both the U.S. and the French constitutions,''
Waquet told Reuters.
She said that although France was not legally obliged to follow the
decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, it was morally bound to do so.
Einhorn has always denied the murder of Maddux, saying it was pinned on him
because he was an anti-Vietnam War activist.
One of Maddux's sisters dismissed Einhorn's slitting of his own throat as a
ploy to ensure the European court would ``save his ass.''
``It's vintage Einhorn. I did not think he would go quietly. But I must
admit, I never thought of this one,'' Buffy Hall of Fort Worth, Texas, told