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Last radical jailed in 1975 robbery

©Associated Press
November 9, 2002

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The last Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive wanted in a deadly 1975 bank robbery was arrested Friday in South Africa, a day after four former comrades -- now graying and middle-aged -- pleaded guilty to murder in the case.

James Kilgore, 55, was seized at his home in the luxury Cape Town suburb of Claremont, 27 years after the Californian went underground.

He had entered South Africa five years ago under the name Charles Pape and had landed a post at the University of Cape Town as a lecturer, said police spokeswoman Mary Martins-Engelbrecht. Kilgore's wife is also a lecturer there.

South African police tracked him down with help from Interpol, Martins-Engelbrecht said.

Through his lawyer, Kilgore had been trying to negotiate his surrender and a plea bargain similar to those worked out by fellow members of the SLA, the '70s radical group that kidnapped newspaper heir Patricia Hearst. But Kilgore was arrested on his original 1976 federal warrant, for possessing a pipe bomb, before a deal was reached.

"It's good news," said Dr. Trygve Opsahl, whose wife, Myrna Opsahl, was depositing a church collection when she was killed by a shotgun blast during the holdup of the Crocker National Bank in suburban Sacramento. "When you're dealing with a fugitive that's overseas, anything could happen. I understand there was something in the wind."

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