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Brazil revokes citizenship of woman accused of killing Air Force major

An undated photo of Maj. Karl Hoerig and his wife Claudia before his murder in March 2007. (Courtesy Karl Hoerig family)

Brazil has revoked the citizenship of a woman who is accused of murdering her husband, an Air Force officer, in 2007.

Reserve Maj. Karl Hoerig was shot to death at his home in Newton Falls, Ohio, in March 2007. His wife Claudia has been indicted for aggravated murder, but she fled to Brazil, where she was born, putting her beyond the reach of the U.S. legal system.

Until now.

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, announced that Hoerig had lost her Brazilian citizenship, opening the way for extradition.  Ryan has tried repeatedly over the years to pressure the Brazilian government to return Hoerig.

“I am very encouraged to see such progress finally being made in this case,” Ryan said in a news release. “I will continue to monitor the cooperation of the Brazilian government until justice is served. While I remain hopeful that we are one step nearer to achieving some measure of closure for family of Karl Hoerig, we must be mindful that no matter the fate of Claudia Hoerig, our community and the Hoerig family has lost a hero and a model citizen.”

Brazil’s justice ministry has decided that Hoerig forfeited her Brazilian citizenship when she became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1999, said Dennis Watkins, the Ohio prosecutor who is trying to extradite Hoerig.

“It is somewhat unknown as to what legal steps she may take, for example, she may challenge the minister of justice,” Watkins said.  “What I can say is the government of Brazil for the first time has taken a positive step that could lead to her return to the United States and to Ohio for trial.”

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