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News Briefs II

French Court Frees U.S. Fugitive Convicted of Murder

Los Angeles Times

Since 1993, the writer with the salt-and-pepper goatee lived in a converted windmill in a village of southern France with his strawberry-blond Swedish wife. Last June, before sunrise, heavily armed police moved in and arrested him as he lay naked in bed.

He claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. But fingerprints showed he was Ira Einhorn, a former hippie and New Age guru from Philadelphia convicted on first-degree murder charges in the death of his former girlfriend and a man on the run for almost 17 years.

U.S. authorities wanted Einhorn back so he could begin serving the life term he was sentenced to in his absence after he skipped bail. A court in the southwestern wine capital of Bordeaux, which delayed its decision three times, finally gave it Thursday: "No."

Instead, the Bordeaux Appeals Court ordered Einhorn, 57, subject of a dogged manhunt across five countries, freed.

"The United States has learned today, to its distress, that it still has lessons to learn from old Europe in matters of human rights," Dominique Delthil, Einhorn's attorney, told reporters.

The American, incarcerated in Gradignan prison near Bordeaux and, who, as usual, wore faded blue jeans, said "thank you" to the judges.

Parliament Again Rejects Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams

Los Angeles Times

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has his invitation to an historic meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street next week, but was again rebuffed Thursday by the British Parliament to which he was elected.

"Britain, which once ruled the waves, now waives the rules," he quipped, after House of Commons speaker Betty Boothroyd refused his request for use of facilities and the Parliament's library.

In London for a day of tub-thumping for his cause, Adams, 49, said he was not surprised by the official rebuff. He refuses to swear the required oath of loyalty to the British queen as condition for taking the seat to which he was elected as representative for Belfast last April.

In a wide-ranging conversation here Thursday, Adams said Sinn Fein, political wing of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, is in democratic politics for keeps. And, he said, there are chances for progress in stalled Northern Ireland peace talks before Christmas.

Adams and his deputy Martin McGuinness came to London Thursday knowing they would lose their fight with Boothroyd, who reiterated her no oath-no way prohibition in what Adams described as a cordial half-hour exchange.