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Bedard to return to Canada on custody dispute charges

1/3/2007

BALTIMORE -- Jailed in a child custody case, Olympic
champion Myriam Bedard failed to win release Wednesday and soon
will be transferred to Canadian custody.

Bedard, a Canadian who won two biathlon gold medals at the 1994
Olympics, did not speak during a short hearing before a federal
judge. Her attorney, Kevin McCants, said afterward that his client
was disappointed the judge did not free her on bail.

"She just said 'thanks for trying,"' McCants said.

Bedard was arrested Dec. 22 in Maryland and held on a warrant as
an international fugitive. She's accused of violating a child
custody order by bringing her 12-year-old daughter to the United
States. Bedard's ex-husband, Jean Paquet, filed a complaint against
her last month in Quebec City.

Bedard had been in the custody of U.S. marshals at the Howard
County Detention Center since the arrest. Her daughter, Maude, is
back in Canada.

Outside the courthouse Bedard's Quebec attorney, John T. Pepper
Jr., said Canadian authorities were not acting as quickly in
extraditing Bedard as they have with less well-known defendants. A
U.S. prosecutor said the transfer would take place within 36 hours.

Pepper asked how it could "take 36 hours for a plane to take
off from Quebec City and fly to Washington and fly her back. If the
plane left at seven this morning she'd be in Quebec City and could
have appeared this afternoon on the charges."

McCants said Bedard told him she believes the delay is political
retaliation for her involvement in a scandal involving a government
sponsorship program. Bedard testified in 2004 in Canada that she
had been forced to quit a job at Via Rail in 2002 after raising
concerns about the company's dealings with an advertiser.

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge James K. Bredar said he could
not grant Bedard bail because of a U.S. extradition treaty with
Canada which limits bail to "extraordinary circumstances."

Bedard faces up to 10 years for child abduction, but McCants
contends she did not break the law. McCants said Paquet acted
prematurely in filing the custody complaint.

"He thought he wasn't going to get his week" of custody during
the Christmas holiday, the attorney said.