Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cuba won’t extradite ‘US most-wanted woman’ in return for lifted sanctions

Published time: December 23, 2014 10:23


These undated images released by the FBI in Washington, DC, on May 2, 2013, shows Joanne Chesimard, who is listed by the FBI as Most Wanted Terrorists, the first woman to join the list. (AFP Photo/FBI)
Havana drew the line at giving back American fugitives granted asylum in Cuba, after NJ Governor Chris Christie urged President Obama to demand extradition of a convicted cop-killer before reestablishing bilateral ties.

The person Christie wants back in a US jail is Assata Shakur, an activist, former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army (BLA), who was the first woman to be placed by the FBI on its most-wanted list.

Shakur, whose name was Joanne Chesimard at the time, was tried and convicted to life in prison for killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster during a shootout in 1973. A BLA member sitting in the car with Shakur was killed in the same incident, while Shakur herself and a second police officer were wounded.

It took three trials for a verdict to be reached. Amid disparity in accounts by the police and some eyewitnesses and medical evidence pointing to Shakur inability to shoot a firearm after her hands were wounded in the gun battle, she was convicted in 1977 and sentenced to life in prison.

Two years later she escaped and remains a fugitive. She fled to Cuba and was granted asylum on the grounds of being persecuted by the US for her political activism. The decision may have been affected by the no fewer than six other criminal trials that Shakur faced in her home country between 1973 and 1977 – all ending with either acquittal or dismissal of the charges.