- The Washington Times - Friday, November 4, 2005

The House yesterday approved a $20.9 billion foreign-aid package that includes a provision to cut off funding to countries that refuse to extradite anyone suspected of killing a U.S. law enforcement officer.

The bill also provides $2.8 billion for AIDS relief in Africa, millions more than the administration requested, but drastically cut the president’s request for economic and security programs to Iraq from $459 million to $61 million.

The extradition section is aimed at resolving a long-standing treaty dispute with Mexico, which now refuses to extradite any suspect who would face the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole.

“The U.S. should not be forced to plea bargain with other countries, nor should full justice be denied family members of assassinated cops,” said Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Colorado Republican who sponsored the legislation, which was ultimately added to the foreign-aid bill.

“This appropriations bill will help us put an end to rewarding foreign-aid nations that provide safe haven to cop killers,” he said.

His legislation came in response to the Mother’s Day slaying of Denver Detective Donald Young, who was shot while working security at a baptismal party. The suspect, Raul Gomez-Garcia, was captured in Mexico two weeks later, but his arrest ignited a debate over whether Mexico would agree to extradite him to Denver for trial.

Rather than engage in a lengthy extradition fight, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey agreed, after consulting with Detective Young’s widow, to charge the suspect with second-degree murder instead of seeking the death penalty with a first-degree murder charge.

Next week, the Senate is expected to approve the bill, which passed the House 358-39, and send it to the president for his signature.

The bill would affect only that portion of foreign aid appropriated to the State Department. In the case of Mexico, the amount at stake is about $40 million, which now goes to Mexican military and law-enforcement authorities involved in the drug war, said Beauprez spokesman Jordan Stoick.

The Mexican Embassy in Washington and the Mexican consulate general in Denver did not return phone calls yesterday. In Denver, the Rocky Mountain News earlier accused Mr. Beauprez of “grandstanding,” saying the bill was aimed primarily at bolstering his chances of winning next year’s Republican gubernatorial nomination.

But the bill’s passage was cheered by police organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as the families of slain officers.

“It seems like this is the only way we can go because nothing else has worked,” said John March, whose son, David, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, was shot by an illegal Mexican alien who remains at large in Mexico.

As many as 4,000 fugitives have avoided arrest on murder warrants in the United States by fleeing to Mexico. An estimated 1,000 of those warrants were from California, including 400 from Los Angeles County, which also has three outstanding warrants for people suspected of killing a U.S. law enforcement officer.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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