Try Sheinbein in Md.

April 28, 1999

This an excerpt of a Miami Herald editorial published Saturday:

SOME people think that they're slick. Catch 'em in a lie, and they'll weasel out of it. Catch 'em red-handed, and they'll look for a loophole in the law.

Take Samuel Sheinbein. He's the 18-year-old Montgomery County, Md., youth who suddenly, and conveniently, got a hankering for his father's birthplace, Israel, just as the local police had decided that he was the prime suspect in a brutal murder. Three days after police found the charred and mutilated body of Alfredo Enrique Tello, Mr. Sheinbein slipped off to Israel.

Police charged the teen-ager with murder, and charged his father, Sol Sheinbein, with helping the boy flee to Israel. Why Israel?

There, convicted killers can get only life in prison. In America, they can be executed.

Don't blame Israel; it isn't the author of this conundrum -- the Sheinbeins are. Israel's 1978 extradition law was intended to protect Jews from the judgment of anti-Semitic authorities in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Thus, the Israeli Supreme Court's 2-1 vote upholding the law and blocking Mr. Sheinbein's extradition to the United States came as no surprise. Recently, though, Israel's parliament wisely repealed the law -- although too late to affect Mr. Sheinbein's case.

Now, a Maryland prosecutor suggests holding the trial at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, or a federal courthouse in Maryland, under Israeli law. Good idea. That would respect the Israeli court's decision as well as save time and costs.

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