IMPORTANT UPDATE: Congressman Tim Ryan and Prosecutor Dennis Watkins Announce Major Breakthrough in Hoerig Case

Apr 20, 2016 Issues: Justice for Karl Hoerig

UPDATE: The United States Ambassador to Brazil Liliana Ayalde in a phone call notified Congressman Ryan this evening that Brazilian Authorities have arrested Claudia Hoerig and are holding her in custody. Congressman Ryan expresses his deepest gratitude to Ambassador Ayalde and all the foreign service officers assisting in this case for their hard work and commitment to justice.

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan and Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins announced that yesterday, Brazil’s Supreme Court justices ruled by a majority of three to two to uphold the Brazilian Ministry of Justice’s administrative decision that had revoked Claudia Hoerig's Brazilian citizenship – allowing extradition procedures to move forward.

“It has been almost nine years ago that my constituent, Major Karl Hoerig, had his life cut short, and for nine years his family and friends have seen no justice. This is a man who bravely served our nation, with nearly 200 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt – we owe it to him to ensure that his killer, Claudia Hoerig, stands trial for her heinous crime,” said Congressman Ryan. “It is with cautious optimism that Prosecutor Watkins and I announce today’s court decision—which closed off one of Claudia’s last options to avoid extradition back to Ohio. While Claudia Hoerig’s lawyers will surely attempt to place procedural hurdles in our way, we have taken a massive leap forward in bringing her to justice.”

“I am very happy with the positive developments from the Supreme Court of Brazil and I am cautiously optimistic that an action will be taken that will bring Claudia Hoerig back to Trumbull County to stand trial in the murder of her husband, Airman Karl Hoerig,” said Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins. “Both Congressman Ryan and I have worked tirelessly on this case for years—and we’re not going to let this go.”

"The Hoerig family is encouraged by the courts decision, but understand there are a couple more hurdles to cross before we can celebrate,” said Paul Hoerig, brother of Karl Hoerig.  “We are waiting for Claudia to reach U.S. soil. Getting to this point has been a group effort, and we would like to thank all those involved with getting us to this point."

“This is good news from Brazil.  I am very optimistic that justice will be served for Karl Hoerig, his family and friends,”
said Larry Diemand, Founder of the ‘Justice for Karl Hoerig’ Facebook Page – whiched serves as a center of support for Karl’s family and friends. Diemand served with Major Hoerig as a C-130 Hercules pilots with the Youngstown Air Force Reserve, and flew combat support missions with Major Hoerig in Saudi Arabia in 1994.  

Ryan has been informed that Brazil's Public Prosecutor of the Republic has requested from the Brazilian Supreme Court an arrest warrant against Claudia Hoerig as a consequence of yesterday’s ruling. This request is part of the extradition procedure.

On May 22, 2013, Ryan was able to pass an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee to restrict immigrant visas for Brazilian nationals and citizens, which would put a moratorium on processing any additional visas for Brazilian citizens. This amendment was later taken out of the final Appropriations bill, but got the attention of the nation of Brazil.

Ryan on amendment banning Brazilian visas. To watch click here.

 

On July 31, 2013, Brazil revoked Claudia Hoerig’s citizenship —the first step in the process of extraditing her to the United States to stand trial. The announcement came shortly after legislative efforts by Congressman Ryan garnered international attention to the case. Until this point, Brazil’s refusal to extradite any of its own citizens was the main barrier towards extraditing Claudia. Congressman Ryan petitioned Brazil to revoke Claudia’s citizenship so the extradition could move forward.

Background on the murder of Karl Hoerig: On March 15th, 2007 U.S. Air Force Reserve Major Karl Hoerig, a veteran with nearly 200 combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt, was found fatally shot in his home. The primary suspect, who has also been charged with the murder, is Claudia Hoerig, his wife at the time and a Brazilian national. Three days prior to Karl being found, Claudia had emptied her husband’s bank account, wired additional money to relatives in Brazil, and fled the U.S. to Brazil.

As a private pilot for Southwest Airlines, Karl and Claudia Hoerig were entitled to free airfare. Claudia took advantage of this benefit after the murder to flee to her home country. Claudia Hoerig has remained free from justice since 2007, avoiding trial by taking advantage of a provision in the Brazilian constitution that bans extradition of any Brazilian citizen. This provision in the Brazilian constitution was added after a 1961 treaty in which Brazil promised to extradite criminals such as Hoerig to the U.S.

Brazilian Extradition Policy: Unlike the United States constitution, the constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil explicitly prohibits the extradition of its citizens charged with one or more criminal acts. While the United States’ policy is to extradite to Brazil persons facing charges in that country, Brazil’s law enforces the prohibition of extradition of its nationals. Nevertheless, the United States continues to provide Brazilian nationals with visas for entry into the United States. The result is that nationals of the Federative Republic of Brazil who commit criminal acts on US soil are able to evade justice under the sanctuary of the Brazilian government simply by fleeing to Brazilian territory.

Congressman Ryan’s Action Timeline on the Claudia Hoerig Case:

(LETTER) May 4, 2007 letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales(link is external)

(LETTER) May 4, 2007 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice(link is external)

(LETTER) November 20, 2007 letter to Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim (link is external)

(LETTER) November 27, 2007 letter to Brazilian Ambassador Patriota (link is external)

(LETTER) November 29, 2007 letter to Brazilian Ambassador Patriota (link is external)

(MEETING) December 18, 2007 Ryan meets with Brazilian Officials regarding Hoerig Case

(VIDEO) April 3, 2008 Ryan facilitates AMVETS Commander to speak on Hoerig Case

(LETTER) April 21, 2008 letter to Brazilian Ambassador Patriota(link is external)

(LETTER) April 21, 2008 letter to Brazilian Chamber of Deputies President Arlindo Chinaglia (link is external)

(LETTER) April 21, 2008 letter to Brazilian President Lula da Silva(link is external)

(LETTER) April 21, 2008 letter to President of the Senate Garilbaldi Alves(link is external)

(LETTER) April 21, 2008 letter to U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Clifford Sobrel(link is external)

(LETTER) April 21, 2008 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice(link is external)

(LETTER) March 4, 2009 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton(link is external)

(BILL INTRODUCTION) June 11, 2009 Ryan introduces Ryan-Boccieri Hoerig Resolution

(LETTER) March 3, 2011 letter to U.S. President Barack Obama (link is external)

(LETTER) May 26, 2011 letter to Mary Warlow, U.S. Director of International Affairs, Dept. of Justice (link is external)

(BILL INTRODUCTION) June 21, 2011 Ryan introduces Brazilian Foreign Aid Fairness Act

(LETTER) July 27, 2011 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

(VIDEO) June 7, 2012 Ryan Spoke on House Floor on Claudia Hoerig and Brazilian Visa Amendment

(BILL INTRODUCTION) February 14, 2013 Ryan Introduces "End Immunity for Brazilian Criminals Act" and the "Karl Hoerig Foreign Aid Suspension Act”

(LETTER) March 12, 2013 letter to Brazilian Ambassador Mauro Vieira

(VIDEO) April 17, 2013 Ryan protests Brazilian contract during Defense Appropriations Hearing over Hoerig Case

(PRESS RELEASE) April 22, 2013 Ryan Questions Former Defense Secretary Hagel

May 22, 2013 Ryan introduces Amendment to restrict immigrant visas for Brazilians

(PRESS RELEASE) July 31, 2013 Brazil Revokes Hoerig’s Citizenship

(VIDEO) June 5, 2013 Ryan speaks on House Floor on Amendment to Restrict Brazilian Immigrant Visas

(BILL INTRODUCTION) June 15, 2015 Ryan introduces ‘Karl Hoerig Foreign Aid Suspension Act’

(BILL INTRODUCTION) June 15, 2015 Ryan introduces ‘End Immuity for Brazilian Criminals Act’

(PRESS RELEASE) July 31, 2013 Brazil Revokes Hoerig’s Citizenship

(PRESS RELEASE) June 29, 2015 Ryan Calls on Brazilian President to Extradite Hoerig

Letters Received:

December 17, 2007 letter from Brazillian Ambassador Patriota(link is external)

December 17, 2007 letter from the U.S. State Department(link is external)

December 21, 2007 letter from the Brazil Ministry of External Relations(link is external)

January 23, 2008 letter from the Justice Department Office of Legislative Affairs(link is external)

May 23, 2008 letter from the State Department Office of Legislative Affairs(link is external)

February 24, 2009 letter from the State Department Office of Legislative Affairs(link is external)

September 19, 2011 letter from the State Department Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs

October 24. 2011 letter from the Brazillian Ambassador to the United States of America, Mauro Vieira