Senators call for extradition of U.S. fugitives from Cuba
NEW YORK - Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have a rare opportunity for cooperation with a new piece of legislation focusing on two local cases with international consequences.
Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, introduced a bill called the Trooper Werner Foerster and Frank Connor Justice Act. The bipartisan legislation defines U.S. policy to require the immediate extradition or return of all fugitives from justice currently receiving safe haven in Cuba to avoid prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses committed in the United States.
The bill specifically targets Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, who is on the FBI's Most Wanted list and was convicted of killing Foerster, who was a New Jersey state trooper. He died in a 1973 shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Connor died in a 1975 terrorist bombing at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan carried out by FALN member William Morales.
Both Morales and Chesimard are thought to be hiding out in Cuba.
Connor's son, Joseph, who has spent much of his adult life seeking justice for his dad, applauds the effort.
"I made a promise to my mom years ago that we would bring Morales back to the U.S. Morales was the face of the FALN and was the face of the evil that they perpetrated," Joseph Connor said. "So getting some recognition for my dad, you know, by his name being on this bill, to bring Morales back was huge. It was huge for the family."
More than 70 fugitives are believed to be receiving safe haven in Cuba and many first received protection by Fidel Castro.
"It is unacceptable that the Cuban regime continues to harbor criminals responsible for committing heinous acts in the United States, including terrorist bombings, murdering American police officers, hijacking planes, and trafficking arms," Menendez said.