The European Union likes to stand as a bastion of civility. They are very much against the death penalty, and never miss an opportunity to berate America whenever a convicted criminal pays the ultimate price. Barbaric, mais oui?
Because of their stand on capital punishment, the French will not extradite a criminal back to the United States if said criminal would be subject to the death penalty. Seeing as the death penalty only applies to the most heinous of crimes, the French are giving sanctuary to the very worst criminals. For murderers, this is a very good thing. For Hans Peterson, it is a life-saver. His life, that is. Not the man he stabbed to death.
Dr. David Cornbleet was a dermatologist with offices in Chicago's Loop. Hard to imagine a more mild-mannered specialty than dermatology, with an office filled with acne-faced teens and the occasional elderly golfer with a bit of skin cancer to be lasered away. Last year, Hans Peterson walked into the doctor's office and viciously knifed the doctor to death, and then Mr. Peterson calmly strolled out.
Security cameras caught the murderer leaving, but by the time his photo was made available, Mr. Peterson had returned to the land of his mother's birth and promptly applied for citizenship. The police finally caught up with him, and he turned himself in to the authorities in Guadaloupe. This Caribbean island is French soil, Mr. Peterson is a French citizen (only as of May), therefore he knew full well that he could not be sent back to the States to face trial.
The State of Illinois submitted an extradition request, the French asked if the criminal might possibly face execution, Illinois said yes, so the French said non. While the Cornbleet family deals with the senseless loss, Mr. Peterson is hiding out in a tropical paradise, aided by the French government which will not release him to face justice.
The story does not end here, however, because the U.S. is still negotiating. And the Cornbleet family has weighed in as well. Forget lethal injection, they've said, there's no need. Tell the French that their citizen won't have to worry about that, so that he can be extradited to face trial and justice can be served. If Hans Peterson wants to play games with French citizenship, the prosecutors in Illinois can trump his hand.
And you'd think that the French would be happy to entertain the compromise. After all, they're looking less than sophisticated for having fallen for a con's scam that's helped a man get away with murder.