Ira Einhorn, the American fugitive convicted in absentia for the 1977 death of his girlfriend, was ordered extradited to the United States on Thursday. According to his lawyer, Einhorn slit his throat shortly afterward in a suicide attempt but then decided that he wanted to live.
As the 61-year-old former anti-war activist was being treated in a hospital for his wound, described as not serious, France agreed to delay his extradition for a week at the request of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lawyer Dominique Tricaud said his client should be released from the hospital within two days.
Another lawyer, Dominique Delthil, insisted that Einhorn was not merely trying to stave off extradition when he cut himself.
"It wasn't just an act," Delthil said.
Einhorn fled the United States in 1981, soon before he was to stand trial for the bludgeoning death of his girlfriend, Helen "Holly" Maddux, in Philadelphia.
In 1993, Einhorn was sentenced in absentia to life in prison. The United States made its initial request for extradition in 1997, after police tracked him down in France.
Einhorn has denied killing Maddux, saying that the charges stemmed from a government conspiracy against him.
Authorities in Paris announced Thursday that Einhorn had lost his last appeal under French law of the extradition order that would return him to Pennsylvania for a retrial.
After Einhorn's self-wounding incident later that day, however, the French government decided to follow the advice of the European Court of Human Rights and postpone the extradition, the Justice Ministry said in Paris.
"He is going to stay in France until July 19," said Charles Malinas, a Justice Ministry official.
The victim's sister, Elizabeth Hall, reacted angrily to the delay in Einhorn's extradition. "Einhorn is not a victim of human rights abuses," she said. "If anyone was, it was my sister."
In Washington, the Justice Department said it was "extremely pleased" with the French decision to extradite Einhorn and would continue to work closely with the French to ensure his return.