Tribune-inspired fugitive legislation sent to governor
Rep. Sid Mathias, R-Buffalo Grove, seen here last week, got fugitive legislation through the House 114-0 today. (E. Jason Wambsgans / April 19, 2012)
The measure would make it a felony for a family member to help prevent a fugitive's arrest or aid in his escape from a jurisdiction to avoid prosecution.
A family member would have to be at least age 18 to be charged under the proposal, which passed 114-0. It sailed out of the Senate last month on a 52-0 vote.
Illinois is one of only 14 states that exempt close relatives from criminal charges, a point underscored in the Tribune series "Fugitives From Justice," which recently was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting. Currently, Illinois law exempts from prosecution spouses, parents, children and siblings who aid and assist a fugitive.
The Tribune documented the case of Muaz Haffar, who fled to Syria in 2005 after being charged with killing student Tombol Malik, 23, according to law enforcement sources. Haffar's father, Dr. Nabil Haffar, bought a plane ticket to help his son escape, according to the sources. His father denies buying the ticket. Records and interviews indicate authorities believe that Muaz Haffar is still at large in Syria.