Former cult members arrive in handcuffs

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The Independent Online
SUSAN HAGEN and Sally Croft, who were extradited to the United States on Wednesday, disembarked at Portland airport, Oregon, last night to begin a legal battle over allegations that they conspired to murder a federal prosecutor when they were members of a bizarre cult.

The two women, who were handcuffed throughout their journey according to fellow passengers, arrived looking tired and gaunt on a flight from New York. They were led to an armoured prison van and taken to downtown Portland where they will be held until they appear in court later today.

Ms Hagan, 47, an aromatherapist, and Ms Croft, 44, an accountant, are expected to be arraigned on charges of conspiring to murder an American federal prosecutor when they were members of a cult run by the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Although their lawyers have refused to comment, it is believed they will soon file a motion for the trial to be moved to a different state - perhaps California - because of fears that many potential jurors in Oregon have been prejudiced by pre-trial publicity.

The women are expected to apply to be released 'on their own recognisance' until their trial, although it is unclear whether this will be granted. If denied, prison officials say they will be held in a county jail within the Justice Centre in Portland.

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