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Kopp awaiting extradition in French jail

James Kopp was arrested in France on Thursday  

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Death penalty complicates matters

Kopp planning to return to U.S.


PARIS, France (CNN) -- The accused killer of a doctor who performed abortions in western New York was transferred on Friday from a tiny tourist town in France, where he was captured, to a prison in the capital of Brittany.

James Charles Kopp, 46, will be held in Rennes while awaiting a formal extradition request from the United States.

Read the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (18 U.S.C. 248) (FindLaw)
Read the indictment (People v. Kopp) (FindLaw) (PDF)

Attacks on abortion providers

The remaining nine on the FBI's most wanted list

Federal Access to Clinic Entrances act (from Cornell)

Kopp, known in anti-abortion circles as "Atomic Dog," was indicted in the October 1998 slaying of Dr. Barnett Slepian, who was felled by a single sniper's bullet fired from the woods behind his home into his kitchen window.

He faces three state charges and a federal one -- violating the Free Access to Clinic Entrances Act with deadly force -- related to Slepian's death.

Kopp is wanted in Canada for the attempted murder of Hugo Short, a doctor who performs abortions in Ontario. Officials also want to question him about several other attacks on abortion providers in Canada.

Death penalty complicates matters

U.S. officials acknowledged that they would seek extradition, but noted that the process is complicated by the possible death penalty attached to the federal charge.

France has abolished the death penalty, and French law bars the extradition of non-French natives to countries that still employ its use.

But Noel Renard, commander of the Dinan police force, told CNN he expected the extradition process to be completed quickly. Dinan is the small Brittany town where Kopp was captured.

"I expect it will be completed in April, pending agreement between French and U.S. governments," he said on Friday.

FBI director Louis Freeh also said he anticipated success.

"We have extradited many people back from France, including people who were originally charged with capital offense," Freeh said at a Justice Department news conference on Thursday in Washington.

French embassy officials declined to comment on the issue, but were unaware of any case in which a defendant in France who faced a possible death penalty in the United States had been extradited.

Kopp planning to return to U.S.

After his indictment in Buffalo in 1998, Kopp disappeared, leaving investigators with an international manhunt to find him.

For a time, officials said, he lived in Ireland under the name O'Brian. He carried three passports -- one American and two Irish, they said.

But he left Ireland on March 12, the FBI said, and was preparing to sneak back into the United States when he was arrested in France.

He was captured on Thursday outside a post office in Dinan, on France's northwest coast -- where he had just picked up a package containing money investigators believed he would have used to leave France.

"He was waiting for the receipt of some additional funds and, we believe, had he left, it would have been further complicated in terms of finding his location," said Freeh.

The FBI also arrested two people in New York who were believed to be planning to hide Kopp once he returned to the United States.

Authorities said more arrests were possible.

CNN's Robert Wiener and Correspondent Bill Delaney contributed to this report.

Possible death penalty could complicate Kopp extradition
March 29, 2001
FBI to investigate Kopp for other shootings
March 29, 2001
Suspect in N.Y. abortion provider killing arrested
March 29, 2001
Appeals court says threats against abortion doctors protected
March 28, 2001
Hair evidence provides clues in abortion-doctor killing
January 22, 1999
Car found in abortion-provider killing
December 23, 1998

Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • The FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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