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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Anti-abortionist sent for US trial
James Kopp
Mr Kopp will have to answer a state murder charge
An American anti-abortion militant wanted in connection with a brutal murder has been extradited from France to the United States, where he will stand trial.

James Kopp, accused of the 1998 killing of Barnett Slepian, a New York obstetrician who performed abortions, had initially fought the extradition order but said last week he wanted to clear his name by returning to the US.

A court in France, a country which opposes the death penalty, had decided last June that Mr Kopp could be sent back to the US after receiving assurances that he would not be executed.

The order was signed by former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, but Mr Kopp, who was arrested in north-west France in March 2001, could still have taken his case to the French Council of State.

"Atomic Dog"

The 52-year-old Mr Slepian was killed by a sniper as he stood chatting with his wife and one of his four sons in the kitchen of their home in Amherst near Buffalo, New York state.

Dr Barnett Slepian, murdered in 1998
Barnett Slepian: Killed in his kitchen by a sniper
The doctor carried out legal abortions at a women's clinic in Buffalo and also had a private medical practice.

Mr Kopp has been arrested several times for his extremist anti-abortion activities.

He is wanted in Canada and the US in connection with at least four other attacks on abortion doctors.

He used several aliases and was known in anti-abortion circles as "Atomic Dog".

In October 2000, a Federal Grand Jury indicted him on two counts.

He faces a state murder charge and the additional charge of violating US federal law by using deadly force against the doctor.

The state charge carries up to life in prison while the federal charge can bring the death penalty.

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The BBC's Hugh Schofield reports.
"Judicial relations between France and the US are strained over the question of the death penalty"
See also:

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