KING: CUBA MUST HAND OVER THUGS
By Geoff Earle
New York Post
April 21, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Amid signs of a potential thaw in US-Cuba relations, Rep. Peter King wants to force the extradition of criminals who have been hiding out in Havana with the blessing of the Castro regime -- saying the cases should be a precondition for any talks.
At the top of the list is William Morales, the former bomb-maker for the FALN, which carried out several bombings in New York in the 1970s.
Morales lost nine of his fingers during an explosion, escaped from Bellevue Hospital in 1978, then made his way to Mexico and later Cuba.
Also living freely in Havana is Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey trooper in 1977. There is still a $1 million bounty for her return.
"It's disgraceful that they have their sanctuary in Cuba," King told The Post.
"To consider any type of normalization with Cuba, a precondition has to be extradition of Morales and Chesimard," he said, calling it "the least" Raul Castro could do.
After President Obama lifted restrictions on travel by Cuban-Americans to their homeland and on remittances that they may send to relatives and called on Cuba to take the next step, President Raul Castro responded by saying, "We have sent word to the US government, in private and in public, that we are willing to discuss everything."
He said human-rights and political prisoners are on the table -- an unexpected and encouraging sign for US officials -- but didn't specifically mention extradition, another longtime sticking point.
Today, King plans to re-introduce legislation to keep economic restrictions in place until Cuba has "proven its respect for the democratic rule of law by ceasing to provide safe harbor" to criminals.