U.S. abortion sniper's trial followed by Canadian police
The U.S. Federal Court trial of anti-abortion extremist James Kopp is being watched closely by police in Canada, where he has been linked to doctor shootingsin the 1990s.
In 2003, Kopp, 52, received a sentence of 25 years to life for the 1998 sniper slaying of Amherst, N.Y., abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian.
Kopp is defending himself in the federal case against further charges he violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in Slepian's murder.
The trial, which began Tuesday in Buffalo, will determine if Kopp will servehis current sentence in the federal prison system, which offers no parole.
Canadian police have a warrant for Kopp, the prime suspect in the non-fatal shootings of doctors who performed abortions in Winnipeg, Vancouver and Ancaster, Ont., in the 1990s, Winnipeg police Sgt. John Burchill said.
"The trial that's going on in Buffalo and the murder trial that went on earlier in the state of New York dealt with one specific incident— it dealt with the murder of Dr. Slepian," Burchill said.
"It didn't deal with anything that happened in Canada. So nobody has been held accountable or responsible for what's happened in Canada."
Burchill, a member of the National Task Force on the Abortion Doctor Shootings, said pursuing the case against Kopp could bring closure for the Canadian victims and communities affected by the shootings.
Three doctors wounded by sniper
Two Ontario Provincial Police officers also attended Kopp's Federal Court trial on Tuesday.
Dr. Jack Fainman, a Winnipeg gynecologist, was wounded by a sniper's bullet at his home in November 1997. Kopp is also considered a suspect in a 1994 doctorshooting in Vancouver, and he was charged with attempted murder in the 1995 Ancaster shooting of Dr. Hugh Short.
"Once all the proceedings have run their course in the United States, including the appeals, the Canadian authorities do have the option to initiate extradition proceedings," said Burchill.
"Because Ontario does have a Canada-wide warrant, that would be something the Crown attorney's office from Ontario may decide to proceed with once everything has run its course in the United States."
However, it is unlikely Kopp would servetime in Canadabecause he's already serving 25 years to life in the U.S. prison system.