The United States wants alleged Yohannes Nessibu returned to stand trial, but Ethiopia refuses because it bars the extradition of its own citizens.
By Justin Jouvenal (The Washington Post) |
The former college soccer player was gunned down in his own home, shell casings scattered around his body, police said. His girlfriend’s body was found a couple of miles away, slumped against a tree with a bullet through her head.
Authorities are confident they know who carried out the brutal double slaying in Northern Virginia last December. A witness places an aspiring rapper at the scenes of the killings. A Fairfax grand jury indicted him for murder. Detectives know where he lives.
Yet, nearly 10 months later, Yohannes Nessibu remains a free man. He was spotted strolling down a street in recent months. On Twitter, he still promotes a mixtape that features him rapping about shooting a woman.
Yohannes Nessibu, 23, is out of reach because he boarded a flight to his native Ethiopia, just before police closed in on him, the victims’ families say. The families say he’s now the subject of an international tug of war: The United States wants him returned to stand trial, but Ethiopia refuses because it bars the extradition of its own citizens.
Yohannes’ case is among dozens in which citizens of foreign countries have allegedly committed crimes in the United States and then sought refuge in their homelands. The United States will extradite its nationals, but a number of countries, including Brazil, Germany and China refuse to turn over their citizens to face charges abroad, even in murder cases.
The State Department declined to comment on Yohannes’ case, but it has previously said such policies are one of the largest stumbling blocks in cases involving international extradition. It has long pushed for countries to drop the bans.
Caught in the middle are grieving families such as those of Henock Yohannes and Kedest Simeneh, both 22, of Fairfax County. With the criminal proceedings frozen, the families are in an agonizing limbo.
“We just want justice,” said Kedest’s father, Sileshi Simeneh.
Sileshi said his family has been in direct talks with the Ethiopian embassy in recent days about possible solutions and he is cautiously optimistic something might be worked out. The Ethiopian Embassy in D.C. did not respond to requests for comment.
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