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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 12:12 GMT
S Africa re-arrests US fugitive
SLA fugitive James Kilgore
Kilgore wrote for left-wing journals as "Dr John Pape"
James Kilgore, the last fugitive member of the gang which kidnapped American heiress Patty Hearst, has been released from custody in South Africa - and immediately re-arrested.

Mr Kilgore - a member of an American revolutionary group from the 1970s - was initially released by a magistrate after hearing that no papers had been received from the United States regarding extradition.


It is quite shocking and strange for this court to hear there is no documentation forthcoming from the United States

Magistrate Hafisa Mohammed
However, he was re-arrested on charges of entering the country under a false name.

Mr Kilgore was first arrested on Friday after nearly 27 years on the run - the last five of which he spent in Cape Town living 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.

Shocking

Mr Kilgore's friends burst into applause as Magistrate Hafisa Mohammed released the US fugitive.

"There is no argument from the State as to why Kilgore was arrested without an official pre-request from the United States," she said in the Wineberg Magistrate's Court near Cape Town.

She said she found it "strange and shocking" that no documentation had been forthcoming from the United States, before concluding: "I can find no reason why he should not be discharged."

Mug shot of SLA fugitive James Kilgore
Kilgore's gang captured and converted Patty Hearst to its cause
A state prosecutor told the court he had been assured that a US request for Mr Kilgore's extradition would arrive in about three weeks, AFP news agency reported.

However, as a smiling Mr Kilgore was being released, he was re-arrested on an immigration charge, defence lawyer Michael Evans said.

"The charge relates to Kilgore entering the country under a false name," Mr Evans said, adding he would apply immediately for bail.

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

Mr Kilgore 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".

Notorious gang

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

His arrest came shortly after four other SLA members pleaded guilty in a California court to the shooting and got sentences of between six and eight years.

Terri Barnes, wife of SLA fugitive James Kilgore
Kilgore's wife, Terri Barnes, may not have known of his past

The SLA, which staged a series of bank robberies in the US in the 1970s, was most notorious for kidnapping Ms Hearst in 1973 and converting her to its cause.

Hearst, who was pardoned by former US President Bill Clinton, was the getaway driver in the crime, and in return for immunity from prosecution gave much of the evidence which led to the launch of a new inquiry into the case.

See also:

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17 Jun 99 | Americas
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