Alleged abortion killer extradited
PARIS, France -- A man suspected of killing a New York doctor has been extradited from France to the United States, his lawyer said.
Anti-abortion activist James Kopp was escorted onto a plane by U.S. marshals on Wednesday and was expected to appear in a federal court when he arrives in the United States, the Associated Press reported.
Kopp, 47, faces a New York state murder charge along with federal charges in the sniper shooting of Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998.
Slepian a father of four, was killed by a single rifle shot as he returned to his home in Buffalo, New York state, from a prayer service for his deceased father.
Kopp disappeared 11 days after Slepian's murder. Investigators believe he fled first to New York City, then New Jersey, before heading to Ireland and France.
He became a suspect after several witnesses placed him in Slepian's wealthy suburb.
In a statement released by his attorney, Kopp said: "I am innocent... I want my innocence recognised as soon as possible."
Last June, a French court recommended that Kopp be extradited after receiving assurances that the U.S. government would not seek the death penalty.
Kopp's lawyer in France, Herve Rouzaud-LeBoeuf, said his client had been turned over to U.S. marshals by French authorities at a prison facility in Rennes earlier in the week.
Tuesday was the first day U.S. authorities were able to take custody of Kopp after he dropped his fight against extradition from France.
He was arrested in March 2001 after more than two years on the run. In a statement last week, Kopp, 47, said he was eager to prove his innocence.
The federal charges allege Kopp violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by using deadly force to prevent Slepian from providing reproductive health services and using a firearm to commit a crime of violence.
The state charges include second-degree murder, first-degree reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon.
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