Israel to Extradite Suspect in Mail-Bomb Death

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Israel's High Court on Sunday turned down the final extradition appeal of Robert Manning, wanted in the United States in the separate bombing deaths of an Arab-American activist and a secretary at a Manhattan Beach computer company.

Manning will be extradited solely in the 1980 mail-bomb killing of Patricia Wilkerson, even though federal investigators also regard him as the prime suspect in the 1985 bombing death of Arab-American activist Alex Odeh in Santa Ana.

An Israeli Justice Ministry spokeswoman said extraditions are usually carried out 60 days after final court proceedings.

Manning has been linked to the militant Jewish Defense League in the United States and the ultra-nationalist Kach movement in Israel. Although he has never been charged in the death of Odeh, head of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee's western office, investigators have called Manning the prime suspect and have mentioned his wife, Rochelle Manning, as a possible suspect.

But under U.S.-Israeli extradition treaties, suspects can be tried here only in the cases for which they were extradited, meaning Manning cannot stand trial for the Odeh killing.

Odeh was killed Oct. 11, 1985, when he opened the door to his Santa Ana office and triggered an explosive booby trap.

The bombing took place a day after Odeh had defended the Palestine Liberation Organization in a television interview.

The High Court rejected an appeal by Manning requesting that he be tried in Israeli courts in the Wilkerson death, a procedure permitted under Israeli law to ensure that its citizens get a fair hearing and do not become victims of anti-Semitism in foreign courts.

Manning, 39, and his wife, Rochelle, 51, who have dual citizenship, are suspected of killing Wilkerson by sending a bomb hidden in an electrical appliance that investigators believe was intended for her boss. Investigators said the bomb was mailed to her boss in reprisal for a business deal gone awry.

While Manning remained a fugitive in Israel, Rochelle Manning and millionaire real estate broker William Ross, who allegedly was embroiled in a business dispute with Wilkerson's boss, were tried in 1988 in Wilkerson's murder. But the jury deadlocked and both defendants were released.

Still subject to retrial because no verdict was reached, Rochelle Manning returned to her husband, who was living on Israel's West Bank. The Mannings were arrested in Israel in March, 1991, after a U.S. request for extradition for another trial in the Wilkerson case.

An extradition request for Rochelle Manning is pending in Israeli courts. Her lawyer maintains she must not be handed over because she was already tried for the offense.

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