The State Troopers Fraternal Organization of New Jersey is urging the Transportation Department not to resume scheduled airline flights to Cuba until a fugitive convicted of killing a trooper is returned to a United States Prison from Cuba.
The department is collecting airline proposals and comment about restoring scheduled flights to the island for the first time since 1963. But in a letter dated February 17th, the union opposes the move until dozens of fugitives are returned to justice in the United States.
“We strongly oppose any request or approval of United Airlines or any other airline a permit to NJ Port Authority airports to fly back and forth to a country such as Cuba, that has openly slapped all Americans in the face with their policy of keeping U.S. fugitives away and safe from the reach of U.S. justice,”
The union is referring to Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, who was convicted in the 1977 killing of Trooper Werner Foerster on May 2, 1973, during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.
At the time of the traffic stop, Chesimard, who was a member of the Black Liberation Army, was wanted for her involvement in several felonies, including bank robbery, according to the FBI. She and accomplices opened fire on the troopers, wounding one and killing Foerster at point-blank range, according to the FBI. Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison, but she escaped in 1979.She was spotted in Cuba in 1984 and is presumed to be still living there, according to the FBI, which has a $1 million reward for her as one of the country’s most wanted terrorists.
The House and Senate each unanimously passed resolutions in 1998 calling on Cuba to return Chesimard to a United States Prison.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx signed an agreement February 16th with his Cuban counterpart to allow up to 110 daily flights from the United States to Cuba.
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