Convicted colleague-killer Abraham
Cooper is a doctor no more
For years, appeals prevented the
Alberta College from revoking his license to practise.
Finally they have
Dr Doug Snider, 59, of Fairview,
a town of 3,300 in Alberta's Peace River region, disappeared
May 5, 1999 after telling his wife that he was going
to a meeting at Dr Abraham Cooper's office. The purpose
was to discuss a lawsuit that Dr Cooper, 64, was bringing
against him and two other doctors. That was the last
anyone saw of Dr Snider.
The case riveted Albertans,
especially when a massive search failed to turn up the
body and large amounts of blood were found at the meeting
place. Dr Cooper was arrested May 27, 1999 after police
searched his car at an Edmonton airport and found blood
in the trunk.
"It has many of the elements
of a classic thriller," says Scott Fitzpatrick, publisher
of the Fairview Post, the community's weekly
newspaper. Dr Snider's body has never been found and
Dr Cooper insists he is innocent. He also maintains
Dr Snider is alive.
"It caught everyone
off guard," says Mr Fitzpatrick, who has lived in Fairview
all his life and knew both doctors. Although many residents
were aware of problems between the two, "you just don't
think that one doctor you know is going to do fatal
injury to another doctor."
At the trial, the prosecutor
told the court that the FP had called Dr Snider to his
office on a false pretence and forced him to sign an
admission that he had been involved in a conspiracy
to revoke Dr Cooper's hospital privileges. Dr Cooper
was said to have disposed of the corpse before flying
from Edmonton to Florida for a medical conference.
The defence argued that Dr
Snider staged his own death and framed his arch-rival.
To back the claim they produced some truckers who testified
that they thought they saw Dr Snider at a truck stop
in Golden, BC. The court thought not and Dr Cooper was
convicted of manslaughter in October 2000 and given
a 10-year sentence.
He appealed and was turned
down by the Alberta Court of Appeal. Undeterred, he
took the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The country's final court of appeal ruled against him
just last August.
Once the case was finally
settled, a three-member investigating committee of the
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Albert (CPSA)
reviewed the case and in December recommended disciplinary
action to the College Council. "The conviction of manslaughter
is a criminal offence and is obviously viewed by the
Council as conduct unbecoming a member of the medical
profession," said Dr Bob Burns, the CPSA Registrar.
In January, Dr Cooper was
removed from the Alberta Medical Register when he did
not appeal within a 30-day period. Medical licensing
authorities in North America and around the world are
being notified of his status.
When can we expect to see
the movie? Fitzpatrick doesn't think it will be anytime
soon, because "it's too ambiguous." He also says the
case, which resulted in a "media circus," was far from
being the town's most newsworthy event. "We're always
making headlines. Last May, they discovered mad cow
disease for the first time in North America around here."
Abraham Cooper was given
32 months credit for pretrial custody, his statutory
release date is Sept 1, 2005.