Friday, July 24, 2015

New Mexico police want 1971 fugitive returned from Cuba

New Mexico police want 1971 fugitive returned from Cuba
Originally published July 23, 2015 at 9:35 pm
The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico State Police chief said Thursday
he would personally pay for a return ticket for a fugitive living in
Cuba who is wanted in the killing of a state police officer and who fled
during a plane hijacking.

Chief Pete Kassetas said his agency is working with the FBI on the
possible return of Charlie Hill to face charges after the U.S. and Cuba
restored formal diplomatic relations.

"I'm cautiously optimistic he'll be extradited back to the U.S.,"
Kassetas said. "I hope I have enough money to cover" Hill's ticket."

Hill is one of a number of America's most-wanted fugitives who made new
lives for themselves in Cuba after fleeing the U.S. years ago and are
now the focus of possible extradition under restored relations.

In the 1960s and 1970s, dozens of American aircraft were hijacked to
communist Cuba at the height of the Cold War. Hill and other fugitives
were granted political asylum by former President Fidel Castro, and they
became players in his government's outreach to American minorities and

Cuba and the U.S. re-established diplomatic relations Monday and have
begun talks about law enforcement cooperation but those talks are in
highly preliminary stages.

Cuban officials have explicitly said they are unwilling to extradite any
fugitives like Hill, whose cases they consider political because they
involve black and Latino militants whom Castro offered asylum during the
Cold War.

In another ongoing case, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently urged
the Obama administration to demand the return of a woman who escaped to
Cuba after being convicted in 1977 of killing a New Jersey state trooper.

Joanne Chesimard, now known as Assata Shakur, has lived on the island
since the 1980s.

Hill fled to the communist island after authorities say he and two other
men killed New Mexico state police officer Robert Rosenbloom in 1971
following a traffic stop.

Fingerprints found after the slaying in an abandoned car led to murder
warrants being issued for Hill, Michael Finney and Ralph Goodwin, who
were all in their early 20s at the time.

Police said the car contained numerous pieces of literature, including
pamphlets for the Republic of New Afrika, a black nationalist movement
dedicated to establishing a separate black nation in the Southern U.S.

Three weeks after Rosenbloom was killed, the men escaped an extensive
manhunt by bounding up the stairway of a Trans World Airlines plane at
the Albuquerque airport and hijacking a Phoenix-bound flight to Cuba.

Finney and Goodwin died in Cuba. Hill, now 65, told CNN in April he was
considering a return to the U.S. because he missed his family and food
such as blackberry pie.

As President Barack Obama moved to thaw relations with Cuba, New Mexico
Gov. Susana Martinez in December renewed a request for the extradition
of Hill.

The Republican governor has sought help from the U.S. State Department
and the U.S. Department of Justice in the matter, Martinez spokesman
Mike Lonergan said Thursday.

Bill Richardson, a former governor, congressman and ambassador, said he
had pushed for extradition in talks with then-President Fidel Castro
during the 1980s but was stonewalled.

Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat who recently led a four-member
Democratic congressional delegation to Cuba, was asked about fugitives
who have found refuge in Cuba. Udall raised the example of Hill and said
he should be extradited.


Follow Russell Contreras at

Source: New Mexico police want 1971 fugitive returned from Cuba | The
Seattle Times -

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