Canadian Kidnappings, Vietnam trials

Published: 1970
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
Five hundred persons joined with the Kennedy family in Waltham, MA, on October 14, 1970 for the dedication of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute, a $2.6 million center for research and clinical evaluation of the mentally retarded. LTR: Dr. Raymond D. Adams director of the Center; Mrs. Rose Kennedy; Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver; Sen. Edward M. Kennedy; and Mr. David Crockett, Associate Director of Massachusetts Hospital. The center is the first of 22 planned nationwide. (UPI Photo/Files)

Announcer: In Canada, two separate groups both reported to be a part of the front for the liberation of Quebec made kidnapping part of their strategy. One group kidnapped Quebec Labor Minister Pierre Laporte, the other kidnapped British Diplomat James Cross.

Mr. Laporte was taken from his home in a Montreal suburb on October the 10th. His abductors demanded the release of so-called political prisoners. Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau invoked Canada's War Measures Act, empowering the police to carry out mass raids and arrests in a search for the missing men and their kidnappers.

Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau: "Nothing that either the Government of Canada or the Government of Quebec has done or failed to do, now or in the future, could possibly excuse any injury to either of these two innocent men. The gun pointed at their heads have SAQ fingers on the trigger. Should any injury result, there is no explanation that could condone the act. Should there be harm done to these men, the Government promises unceasing pursuit of those responsible."

Announcer: On October 17th, just seven days after he was kidnapped, Mr. Laporte's body was found. He had been strangled. For British Diplomat James Cross, fate was kind. After eight weeks of confinement, he was released. Mr. Cross tells of his confinement.

James Cross: "They told me about 10:00 o'clock on Wednesday evening that they had, the police knew where I was. Nothing much happened for about the next four hours. Then the power was cut at I think around 2:00 in the morning. I was in bed at the time; they got me up. They handcuffed me, they took me into a corridor in the middle of the house. They handcuffed me to a doorknob and I spent the night. It's a very uncomfortable position."

Announcer: In an agreement reached with the kidnappers, they were allowed to leave Canada and guaranteed safe passage to Cuba.

After the preliminary negotiations, Mr. Cross and the three kidnappers rode in a police cavalcade to St. Helen's Island, the site of Expo '67 in the St. Lawrence River. Canada's Expo Pavilion there had been declared Cuban territory for the purposes of the talks.

Announcer: In Fort Benning, Georgia, courts-martial proceedings started to determine the guilt or innocence of soldiers who supposedly took part in the massacre of Vietnamese civilians in My Lai in March of 1968. The name most associated with the alleged massacre, Lieutenant William Calley. He was the leader of the platoon which was in the village the day the civilians were shot. Calley is charged with killing 102 civilians.