The Israeli government is unlikely to arrest suspected bomber Robert Manning, wanted on homicide charges in Los Angeles, so long as he remains on the occupied-West Bank, a federal prosecutor said in court Friday.
But an Israeli government spokesman denied that Manning’s residence in the West Bank is a relevant issue in the case. He said that “if and when” Manning’s extradition is approved, he will be arrested anywhere in Israel, including the West Bank.
While a spokesman for the Justice Department in Washington declined comment on Manning’s status, a lawyer for his wife, a co-defendant, said in court Friday that an arrest warrant, the first step in extradition proceedings, has been issued in Israel for Manning.
Manning, who claims Israeli citizenship; his wife, Rochelle, and millionaire Hawthorne real estate dealer William Ross, who all met in the early days of the militant Jewish Defense League in Los Angeles, have been indicted in a fatal mail bombing that took the life of a Manhattan Beach secretary in 1980.
“I confirmed this morning that so long as Mr. Manning remains on the West Bank, it’s unlikely that he would be arrested,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Nancy Wieben Stock said.
The assessment came “ultimately from Israeli sources,” Stock said. She declined further comment.
However, Ilan Mor, consul for press and information at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, said the West Bank issue is irrelevant in the Manning case.
“The West Bank has an importance as a topic in a political dispute but not in a legal process,” Mor said. “If and when the government of Israel will decide that Mr. Manning should be extradited to the U.S., if and when, he can be arrested anywhere in Israel, including the West Bank.”
Michael Adelson, lawyer for Rochelle Manning, said Robert Manning’s Israeli lawyer told him by telephone that the arrest warrant had been issued.
On Friday, Adelson again asked U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian to set bail for Rochelle Manning. She has been in custody since her arrest in June. Tevrizian ruled that she poses a flight risk and ordered her to continue to be held without bond.
Three days earlier, co-defendant William Ross was released after posting $1 million in property. Tevrizian had also denied Ross’ release pending trial but was reversed by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Rochelle Manning’s lawyers said Friday they too will appeal.
In the 1980 bombing, Patricia Wilkerson died after she opened a package addressed to her boss, with whom Ross was embroiled in a property dispute. Robert Manning’s fingerprint was found on the package containing the bomb and Rochelle Manning’s on a typed letter accompanying it, authorities have said.
Manning is also a suspect in the 1985 bombing death of pro-Palestinian Arab activist Alex Odeh of Santa Ana.