Israeli courts offer for Sheinbein nixed

WASHINGTON — An American teenager who fled to Israel after allegedly committing a brutal murder in Maryland will remain, for now, in the Jewish state.

Maryland prosecutors this week rejected a compromise offered by an Israeli judge that would have brought Samuel Sheinbein back to the United States to stand trial.

Under the deal, which Sheinbein had accepted, any jail time would have been served in Israel.

After the murder of the teenager's acquaintance, Alfredo Enrique Tello, Sheinbein claimed Israeli citizenship, contending that his father's status as an Israeli extends to him. Israeli officials say otherwise. While they have not questioned the elder Sheinbein's citizenship, Israeli officials, including the attorney general, say the youth is not an Israeli because his father, born in pre-state Palestine, left the country at a young age.

Sheinbein's attorney, former Justice Minister David Libai, has argued in Jerusalem District Court that Sheinbein is an Israeli citizen.

The Israeli Supreme Court is expected to have the final say in the extradition matter if the lower court rules that Sheinbein is not an Israeli citizen. The recommended compromise was intended to head off appeals that could take up to two years.

A district court hearing to determine Sheinbein's citizenship was set to resume this week after Maryland officials rejected the compromise.

The deal with Maryland prosecutors would have afforded Sheinbein the arrangement for jail time contained in an international treaty signed by most United Nations member states. The treaty allows criminals convicted in foreign courts to serve their sentences in their country of citizenship.

Although Maryland officials have rejected the compromise as unworkable because of potential loopholes, they have not ruled out an arrangement that would have Sheinbein serve a prison sentence in Israel as long as the American courts would have a say in any parole considerations.

Israeli officials are quick to point out that Sheinbein will face prosecution in any event. Israel has vowed to prosecute him in the Jewish state if the courts rule that Sheinbein cannot be extradited.

Reports that Sheinbein tried to avoid the death penalty by accepting the compromise proved to be unfounded because Maryland does not execute criminals who were under the age of 18 when the crime was committed.