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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 13:42 GMT
US gang fugitive appears in court
SLA fugitive James Kilgore
Kilgore wrote for left-wing journals as "Dr John Pape"
James Kilgore, the last free member of the gang which kidnapped American heiress Patty Hearst, may surrender to face trial in the US, his South African lawyer has said.

Mug shot of SLA fugitive James Kilgore
Kilgore's gang captured and converted Patty Hearst to its cause
Mr Kilgore appeared briefly at a court in Cape Town on Monday at the beginning of extradition proceedings.

He was arrested last Friday after nearly 27 years on the run - the last five of which in Cape Town where he lived under the name Charles William Pape.

US authorities have had him on their most-wanted list for decades for his involvement with the radical Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) which staged a number of bank robberies in the US during the 1970s.

Negotiations

Mr Kilgore's lawyer, Michael Evans, said after the hearing that his client was speaking to US officials about a deal under which he would join four former colleagues sentenced last week for second-degree murder.

"Over the last few months, there have been negotiations with the authorities in California, and we are waiting for further developments in that regard," he said.

The Cape Town home of SLA fugitive James Kilgore
Mr Kilgore's Cape Town neighbours knew him as a university lecturer
"There are attorneys in the United States who are acting on [Mr Kilgore's] behalf.

"It is clearly linked to what has been happening in California and related to the other negotiations."

Mr Kilgore is wanted in connection with an unexploded bomb found with his fingerprints and with the death of bank employee Myrna Opsahl in the 1975 robbery of a bank in Sacramento.

Four former SLA members pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last week and will face six to eight years in prison after a plea bargain deal in connection with the same robbery.

South African law bars the extradition of a suspect to a jurisdiction which could impose the death penalty for the alleged crimes.

Supporters

Mr Kilgore was greeted with applause and shouts of "Viva John" from more than 100 supporters when he arrived in the courtroom.

Terri Barnes, wife of SLA fugitive James Kilgore
Kilgore's wife, Terri Barnes, may not have known of his past
The BBC correspondent in Cape Town, Alastair Leithead, said Mr Kilgore looked more like the university researcher he had become than a fugitive member of the revolutionary SLA which kidnapped Ms Hearst and then converted her to its cause.

He has worked at the University of Cape Town as a researcher since 1998 and often had articles published in left-wing journals under the name of "Dr John Pape".

Mr Kilgore hugged his wife, academic Terri Barnes, who cried through most of the five-minute hearing.

Our correspondent said it is not known how much of his secret life she knew about, but Mr Kilgore's colleagues and friends in the plush suburb where he lived knew nothing of his revolutionary past.

See also:

09 Nov 02 | Africa
09 Nov 02 | Americas
08 Nov 02 | Americas
18 Jan 02 | Americas
17 Jan 02 | Americas
01 Nov 01 | Americas
17 Jun 99 | Americas
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