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Special Event

One of FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives Caught in France

Aired March 29, 2001 - 4:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Under way at this hour, the news conference by people who headed the investigation. Among the charges that James Kopp faces is a local charge of second-degree murder and a federal charge related to free access to abortion.

And as we have been listening in on the press conference under way in Buffalo right now, we've heard that there have been some additional charges, many against other people. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here to announce that James Charles Kopp is in custody and waiting extradition to the United States.

He is charged with the violation of title 18, United States code section 248, which is a violation of the faith statute, and also under arrest in the -- by our New York office, our two co-conspirators charged with the harboring statute.

At this point in time, I would like to turn the microphone over to the U.S. Attorney for the Western district of New York, Denise O'Donnell.

DENISE O'DONNELL, U.S. ATTORNEY, WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Thank you. I think it's important, as we have gathered here today, to acknowledge that the killing of Dr. Barnett Slepian was not a permissible ideological act, but a cold-blooded murder. And I am gratified today that the French police have made an arrest of James Charles Kopp, as a result of one of the most intensive and painstaking investigation on an international level that has ever been undertaken in this country. And I really --

CHEN: All right. Those are late details coming to us. A press conference is still under way in Buffalo at the FBI headquarters there. Let's listen to the news conference that is still under way. I think that they are taking the reporters' questions now.

JIM MILLER, DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT, ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE: I am detective superintendent Jim Miller, Ontario provincial police.

GLENN WHITE, HAMPTON POLICE SERVICE: I am Glenn White from the Hampton police service.

MILLER: We just like to say and may be echo the remarks of the previous officers that this was a real team effort. It extended up into Canada. We were joined by our associates at the RCMP, Vancouver city police, the Winnipeg city police, as well as the Hamilton- Wentworth regional police.

And the team work that went on with our friends here in the U.S. demonstrates what some hard work with a lot of different agencies can produce, and we are pleased with the results today. Thank you.

CHEN: All right. Underlying cooperation between U.S. authorities and those in the Buffalo, New York area as well. We heard earlier today from the Justice Department that they noted cooperation from the Canadian government where there's an additional charge against James Kopp, as well as Ireland, the United Kingdom and of course, France, where James Kopp was arrested earlier in the day.

Joining from Buffalo is Dennis Kahn who is a friend of the Slepian family. We appreciate you being with us, and I understand that you have talked to Dr. Slepian's widow just today.

DENNIS KAHN, FRIEND OF SLEPIAN FAMILY: Yes, I did.

CHEN: Can you talk a little about her reaction to the arrest?

KAHN: Yes, we spoke very briefly, and obviously she is extremely relieved. There is never any closure to something like this, but it's a very, very important thing to the family, and I think to this community in general, that Mr. Kopp has been located and arrested.

CHEN: You talk about the relationship to the community, and indeed there has been a great deal of news conference on the national level about Dr. Slepian as a provider of abortion. But in addition, within your community in the Buffalo area, he meant a lot in terms of births in that community?

KAHN: That is absolutely right. I think what's probably the most significant thing about Dr. Slepian was that this community, particularly the east -- the Amherst community where Dr. Slepian lived, is pretty much well-known as one of the safest, if not the safest, community in the United States.

And beyond the issues of abortion and non-abortion, this was a shock to the community in general that something like this could happen in an individual's home, in front of his wife, in front of his children. And it shocked the community.

CHEN: Also, in terms of Dr. Slepian's relationship to the broader community there, beyond his family, beyond friends like yourself, he was responsible for a lot of the births -- I mean, it's a relatively small community, not a lot of obstetricians to provide birth services.

KAHN: That is absolutely true. And he had a close relationship with many, many families whose children he brought into this world.

CHEN: Mr. Kahn, can you talk about the time since Dr. Slepian's death for the family and for those of you who knew Dr. Slepian?

KAHN: Well, it's been a difficult time for all of us. We knew him, and as I stated earlier, the community in general knew him, not in terms of being an abortion doctor, but in terms of being a community person.

I think that when you get involved into the national issues that have been raised by this horrific murder, what ends up happening is people end up not just missing the person, but they begin thinking about this more on on national level, how many other people it affects. We begin to have relationships with other communities, like the communities in Canada, who have similarly lost an abortion doctor under the same type of circumstances. And these things are difficult for everybody, and I don't think it's particularly a healing type of circumstance, when a man like this is brought to justice.

But it's what's right and what's important. And as a lawyer, and in addition of being a family friend, I am not going to try to convict this man until that's over, but I can tell you that a lot of people are relieved that he has been found.

CHEN: Can you talk about the time while Dr. Slepian was still alive and his relationship to those who opposed abortion in your community?

KAHN: You know, he tried not to be a terribly political person. Certainly, there were circumstances that we heard of where there were protesters, and I think he was generally very respectful of it. He was a type of gentleman who realized that there were opposing views, and he just attempted to go about his work, his life, his friendships and his family, and supporting his patients. And I never really knew Barnett to go out and begin getting involved in the political issues of abortion versus non-abortion.

CHEN: Dennis Kahn, who is a friend of Dr. Slepian and his family, joining us from Buffalo, New York.

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