Portugal Court Refuses To Extradite Fugitive Killer
George Wright, an escaped prisoner, killed a man in Wall in the1960s
LISBON, Portugal — A Portuguese court has denied a U.S. request for the extradition of captured American fugitive George Wright, who spent 41 years on the lam in a journey that took him across three continents, a court official and his lawyer said Thursday.
The U.S. wants Wright returned to serve the rest of his 15- to 30-year jail sentence for a 1962 killing in Wall Township. Wright was captured in Portugal in September after a fingerprint provided by U.S. authorities was matched to his in a national database the country maintains for all citizens and legal residents.
Wright's lawyer, Manuel Luis Ferreira, told The Associated Press by telephone the judge accepted his arguments that Wright is now Portuguese and that the statute of limitations on the killing had expired. He declined to provide further details, saying he would hold a news conference later.
American officials can appeal the decision to a higher Portuguese court. U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney did not immediately reply to an email request seeking comment.
A Portuguese court official confirmed the extradition request was refused, but provided no details. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she wasn't authorized to discuss the case.
Portuguese court proceedings for extraditions and many other type of cases are conducted in secrecy with no public access to the proceedings, filings or decisions.
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