TEL AVIV (Mar. 4)
Robert Manning, accused together with his wife of a fatal 1980 mail-bombing in California, was turned down by Israel’s High Court of Justice in a bid to have his extradition from Israel reconsidered.
His wife Rochelle, however, has obtained a last-minute stay of her extradition from Israel after the court agreed to set another hearing on the legality of the U.S. request.
The American Jewish couple, who moved to the West Bank, are charged with mailing the parcel bomb that killed secretary Patricia Wilkerson. The parcel was addressed to the wife of the secretary’s employer and the Mannings’ fingerprints were later found on parts of the wrappings.
The couple are also wanted for questioning in the case of Alex Odeh, an Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee official killed in 1985 in Santa Ana, California.
The Mannings were active in the Jewish Defense League in the United States. Soon afterward, they immigrated to Israel.
The High Court president, Justice Meir Shamgar, ordered a second hearing before an expanded five-justice bench to focus on Rochelle Manning’s argument that she should not be extradited because she has already stood trial in the United States on charges of having killed the secretary.
The previous trial resulted in a hung jury, but U.S. officials want to retry the case.
Rochelle Manning claims the request should be canceled on the grounds of double jeopardy, but U.S. law does not prohibit filing an additional indictment on the same charges in the case of a hung jury. Israeli law differs.
Shamgar said the issue deserved a second, deeper examination of the issue.
Shamgar’s decision is described here as unprecedented, since it is the first time in Israel’s history that a second hearing has been ordered following a previous High Court decision to uphold a district court’s extradition decision.
The prior hearing was before a smaller, three-justice panel.
Rochelle Manning’s lawyer, Yair Golan, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Shamgar had agreed with him that “this is a precedent-setting question” that merits closer legal scrutiny.
But Shamgar rejected a request by Robert Manning, who has never stood trial for the bombing, to permit new evidence to be presented against his extradition.
The Jerusalem District Court had ruled the couple extraditable, despite a protest from a wide section of the Orthodox public in Israel.
Supporters of the Mannings have argued emotionally that the Orthodox couple should not be extradited since “the state should not hand over Jews for trial by non-Jews abroad.”
(Contributing to this report was JTA correspondent Cynthia Mann in Jerusalem.)