Trump must call for return of Claudia Hoerig

Claudia Hoerig, accused of killing her husband, U.S. Air Force Maj. Karl Hoerig of Newton Falls, remains in a Brazilian prison where she has been for more than a year now.

The story, which originated in Newton Falls more than 10 years ago, gained national media attention again last week, when CBS’ “48 Hours” aired an hour-long news show recounting Karl Hoerig’s violent shooting death inside his home and the subsequent flight of Claudia Hoerig — now Claudia Sobral — to her native Brazil. She has been indicted by a Trumbull County grand jury on a charge of aggravated murder with a gun specification.

The case grabbed the attention of the Mahoning Valley not only because of the cold-blooded nature of the killing, but because Maj. Hoerig was a highly decorated pilot with the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He was assigned to the 910th Tactical Airlift Wing at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, where he flew C-130H planes.

Karl Hoerig’s body was found March 15, 2007, after colleagues at the local air reserve base asked police to check on him when he failed to show up for training.

He was 43 when he died.

Before marrying Karl Hoerig, Claudia Hoerig had renounced her Brazilian citizenship and became an American citizen. Still, the South American country has denied U.S. requests to return her to Ohio authorities, including Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, who plans to try her in the murder of her husband.

“48 Hours” reported Saturday night that the Brazilian Supreme Court now has closed the case there, leaving the decision up to the Brazilian government to call for her extradition to the U.S.

It is true that earlier supreme court justices in Brazil had recommended that Hoerig-Sobral should receive a sentence of no more than 30 years behind bars and that she should be given credit for time served in Brazil.

We, of course, believe Brazil’s recommended sentence should be of no consideration. If she were to be convicted in America for the crime of aggravated murder committed here, she should face the appropriate penalty, which more than likely would involve a sentence that is more harsh than 30-year maximum prison time.

This is one of the most controversial cases in Brazil, yet the U.S., led by hundreds of attempts via letters, emails, court action and congressional demands from Watkins, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, and former U.S. Rep. and and now state Rep. John Boccieri, D-New Middletown, has failed so far in winning Hoerig’s extradition.

Since this matter is now left to the administration of Brazilian President Michel Temer, it is only fitting that U.S. President Donald Trump become personally involved. Trump must reach out to the Brazilian government and demand Hoerig’s return to America.

After more than a decade, it is time.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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