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Portugal jail plea for US killer

An American killer and alleged hijacker who was a fugitive for 41 years should serve the rest of his jail term in Portugal instead of being extradited to the United States, his lawyer said.

George Wright, 68, deserves to serve the remainder of his 15 to 30-year New Jersey murder sentence in Portugal because he has lived in the country for decades, has a Portuguese wife and grown-up Portuguese children, said the lawyer Manuel Luis Ferreira.

"If he has to serve, then he wants it to be here, which is his home," Mr Ferreira said.

Wright broke out of the Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, New Jersey, on August 19 1970 after serving eight years for killing a man in a 1962 petrol station robbery. He then was part of a Black Liberation Army group that hijacked a US plane to Algeria in 1972.

Wright was captured in a seaside village near Lisbon on Monday after authorities matched his fingerprint on a Portuguese identity card to one in the United States.

The lawyer also said Wright will oppose extradition on the grounds that he fears reprisals for his past membership of a militant black group in the United States.

Mr Ferreira did not outline his legal strategy for trying to prevent Wright from being extradited to face charges in the hijacking.

Hijacking in the United States carries a possible penalty of life in prison, and Portugal does not allow people to be extradited if they will face more than the nation's maximum sentence of 25 years.

Under Portuguese law, citizens can serve sentences handed down in a foreign country in Portugal. However, Portuguese officials say there is doubt about the validity of Wright's identification documents and whether he is a national.

A photocopy of a Portuguese identity card issued to Wright in 1993 listed his home country as Guinea-Bissau, where he lived in the 1980s. A foreigner marrying a Portuguese is entitled to Portuguese nationality, but has to formally request it. It is not known whether Wright did so.

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