By Jordy Yager - 08/15/10 04:25 PM EDT
A high-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee is calling on the Justice Department to “wake up and do something” in the effort to return a Nepalese man to face charges of killing three teenagers in Texas.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) made the plea last week after several unsuccessful attempts to engage the help of the Department of Justice (DoJ) to return Sajan Tamalshina from his native Nepal, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.
A spokeswoman for the DoJ declined to comment on the status of Tamalshina’s situation, saying, “The department doesn’t confirm or comment on matters of mutual legal assistance.”
Late one Friday night last month, Tamalshina, 26, was driving his car in Jackson Lee’s district city of Houston, when, police allege, he ran a red light and broadsided an SUV carrying five teenagers and two adults, which then hit a utility poll, according to police reports.
Two 13-year-olds and a 17-year-old were immediately ejected
from the SUV and pronounced dead within hours. The other two teens and two
adults in the vehicle survived. The teens were being taken home by the adults after their
first “teen night.”
Local police later said that they had enough evidence to hold Tamalshina overnight, but released him that night after conducting a standard field sobriety test because they didn’t think he would flee and they wanted to get the blood test results back for his alcohol level before they pressed charges.
When, police said, they discovered on Monday that his blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit, they went to charge him with three counts of intoxication manslaughter only to find that he had left the country.
Tamalshina was in the U.S. on a student visa and could face 60 years in prison if convicted on all three charges.
Jackson Lee said she’s been referred to the U.S. Marshal’s office to discuss the matter of returning Tamalshina to the U.S., but she’s not received any real promise they are working to ensure his return.
“I am calling on the Justice Department and the attorney general of the United States to recognize that they are here to protect the people of the United States, and these three dead teenagers are in need of their protection in their loss, and their families want justice,” said Jackson Lee.
“I am asking for the U.S. Marshal to show up and work with us to do something on behalf of these Americans and these families that are mourning.”