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John Graham loses extradition appeal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - John Graham, also known as John Boy Patton, a Yukon native, lost his appeal June 26 and will be extradited to the United States to answer to a murder charge.

Three British Columbia justices from the province's Court of Appeals made their unanimous ruling and honored the U.S. Justice Department's request to extradite Graham and put him on trial. The Canadian courts had earlier approved the extradition, but Graham appealed in 2005. Since that time he has been under house arrest.

Graham is accused of murdering Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Pictou-Aquash's body was found in a ravine in the South Dakota Badlands on the northern side of the Pine Ridge Reservation in February 1996.

She was an activist with the American Indian movement at the time of an occupation by the American Indian Movement in 1975 when two FBI members were murdered. Leonard Peltier is serving two life sentences in the deaths of the two FBI agents.

In 2004, a Rapid City, S.D., jury found Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud guilty in the death and kidnapping of Pictou-Aquash and he was sentence to life in prison. During the trial, a video of Looking Cloud's interrogation with the authorities placed Graham at the scene of Pictou-Aquash's slaying; in fact, Looking Cloud, on tape, accused Graham of pulling the trigger, killing Pictou-Aquash execution-style with a gunshot to the back of the head.

Graham has maintained his innocence since the time of his arrest in 2003.

When the Canadian justice announced the ruling, Graham's two daughters were in the courtroom and Naneek Graham, one of his daughters, told the CBC that she didn't understand the ruling given that most of the evidence was false.

Graham supporters claim that he has been framed by the FBI, much the same, they claim, as was Peltier, who is looked upon by his supporters as a political prisoner.

In 1975, the American Indian Movement and supporters occupied parts of Pine Ridge in support of traditional Oglala members who claimed they were being targeted by the then Dick Wilson administration. They argued that Wilson had his own police force that harassed and shot at traditional members and denied them any rights.

A shootout occurred near the town of Oglala on Pine Ridge and by the time it ended two FBI agents and one AIM member were dead.

Federal authorities argue that Pictou-Aquash was targeted by AIM because it was thought she was an FBI informant. Confusing evidence over the autopsy and identification of Pictou-Aquash's body and other testimony during the Looking Cloud trial lead Graham supporters to believe he will be found innocent, as he claims.

Graham's attorneys will review the judgment and decide if an additional appeal is possible. Given the fact that the three-justice panel was unanimous, the attorneys said they don't hold out much hope that an appeal would be accepted.

Terry LaLiberte, one of Graham's attorneys, said the U.S. authorities would take Graham to South Dakota after the 30-day appeal period expires and, ''if it's anything like Mr. Looking Cloud's [trial], they will convict him in a week,'' Laliberte told the CBC.

Justice Ian Donald wrote in the judgment that it was his opinion a reasonable jury could convict Graham based on the evidence that argues Looking Cloud and Graham drove Pictou-Aquash from Denver to the Black Hills and then carried out the execution.

When the appeal was denied, bail was revoked and Graham is currently in the custody of the Canadian authorities.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office for the South Dakota District, no trial date or trial location had been set.