I’ll be back, promises Kilgore

Former Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) member James Kilgore on Friday formally consented to his extradition to face criminal charges in the United States.

However, he also said through his lawyer that he intends to return to South Africa to continue

”building a democratic society” when he has served his sentence.

Wynberg magistrate Maria van Eeden issued an order under the Extradition Act that he be held in custody pending a decision by Justice Minister Penuell Maduna on his surrender to US authorities.

Kilgore waived his right to appeal against the committal order. At the same time, the State announced it was dropping South African immigration charges against him — charges which Kilgore’s advocate, Anton Katz, said had been ”merely a ruse to keep my client in custody”.

Katz asked Van Eeden to include in the report she must now make to Maduna that there were no charges against Kilgore in South Africa.

He also handed in a draft of a surrender order that he said Maduna ”may appropriately make”.

Katz said Kilgore wanted this order made as soon as possible ”early next week if possible, but if not as soon as possible thereafter”.

Given an opportunity after the hearing to speak to the score or so of supporters who had filled the public benches, a relaxed-looking Kilgore thanked them for coming.

”I’ll be in touch,” he joked. ”I’m easy to contact. My diary is empty.”

Kilgore’s attorney, Michael Evans, said the extradition now all hinged on Maduna. Kilgore was arrested on November 8 at his home in Cape Town, where he worked as an academic under the alias Charles Pape.

He is wanted on three matters in the US. These include a federal passport-related charge; a federal charge of possession of an unlawful explosive device; and California state charges of murder and use of an unlicensed weapon in the commission of that murder.

Kilgore has a wife and children in Cape Town, and was a respected researcher at the University of Cape Town’s International Labour Resource and Information Group.

Twenty-seven years ago he was a member of the radical SLA, an organisation best remembered for its kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. Four other SLA members recently pleaded guilty in a California court, and are to be sentenced in February.

They were charged in the shotgun killing of Myrna Opsahl, a 42-year-old woman gunned down in the hold-up of a Crocker National Bank branch in Carmichael, just north of Sacramento, in 1975.

Kilgore is being held in Goodwood Prison. – Sapa

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Ben Maclennan
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