A French court recommended that James Charles Kopp, one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, be extradited to the United States. Kopp is charged in the murder of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian.
Extradition was recommended only on the grounds that “the death penalty will not be requested, pronounced or applied.” France abolished capital punishment in 1981 and does not extradite suspects who face the death penalty at home. Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said the United States will not seek the death penalty “in order to ensure that Kopp is not released from custody and is brought to justice in America.”
Kopp and his lawyers may still appeal to the Court of Cassation. Final approval for extradition must be granted by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, at which point Kopp’s lawyers could ask for a review by the State Council. At the earliest, Kopp could be extradited a month from now.
Kopp, 46, allegedly shot 52-year-old Slepian through his kitchen window October 23, 1998. Known as “Atomic Dog” among anti-abortion activists, Kopp was captured by French police on March 29 after over 2 years on the run. He faces a state murder charge and federal charges including violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by using deadly force against an abortion provider. Kopp has maintained his innocence against all charges.