An American hit-and-run driver who was finally found in Israel last year, after fleeing Florida over a decade ago, may not be extraditable because Florida does not allow its prisoners to receive kosher food.
Jerusalem District Court Judge Ben-Tzion Greenberger on Sunday ruled that Lawrence Seth Wayne, who had been sentenced by a Florida court to 19 years in prison for the 1998 road accident, could not be extradited to a state that would violate his right to practice his religion.
Greenberger thus accepted Wayne’s argument that sending him back to Florida would violate Israel’s Extradition Law, which forbids extradition to a foreign country if this is liable to “harm public policy or a crucial interest of the State of Israel.”
If he was not assured kosher food, extraditing Wayne would constitute “a serious violation of his most basic rights to freedom of religion and worship,” Greenberger said.
He could only be extradited if Florida provided him with kosher food in prison, or allowed him to serve out his sentence in one of the 35 U.S. states that do provide its prisoners with kosher food, Greenberger said.
Florida has refused to allow Wayne to receive kosher food in prison even if he pays for it privately, and insists he must begin serving his sentence in Florida while awaiting the proceedings to transfer him to another state.
In February 1998, Wayne, a twice-convicted drunk driver, was again driving drunk when he slammed into Donald Cantwell’s pickup truck in Delray Beach, mortally injuring him. Wayne fled the scene but was apprehended by police. Cantwell died two days later.