Fair Bhagwan trial 'threatened by TV'

AN AMERICAN judge who was the target of a murder conspiracy allegedly involving two British women has spoken on television of his fears that they would kill him.

The judge's comments were broadcast two days before Sally Croft and Susan Hagan were due to be extradited to the US, fuelling defence lawyers' fears their chances of a fair trial have been compromised.

In the broadcast, which would not have been allowed in Britain, Charles Turner, a former US attorney but now a part-time judge in Oregon, said he had a premonition of a plot to kill him, so he slept with a shotgun and pistol. He gave details of how conspirators planned to kill him. He was never harmed.

Ms Croft, 44, an accountant, and Ms Hagan, 47, an aromatherapist, were members of the Bhagwan Rajneesh sect in Antelope, Oregon, in the mid- 1980s when a number of members allegedly plotted to kill Mr Turner, who was investigating their activities.

Several members of the sect have been convicted of fraud, wire-tapping and poisoning people in a restaurant. Only one person admitted to a conspiracy. Ms Hagan and Ms Croft were named as conspirators five years after the plot was first uncovered and say that they played no part in it.

They were due to be handed over to US marshals on Thursday but were given a reprieve on Wednesday when a High Court judge gave them leave to appeal against extradition.