US polygamist leader faces new trial

The Utah Supreme Court has reversed the convictions of the polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and ordered a new trial.

Mr Jeffs, 54, was convicted by a jury in 2007 of two counts of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 nuptials of a 14-year-old follower to her 19-year-old cousin.

He is the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is based on the Utah-Arizona state line. The group practises polygamy in marriages arranged by church leaders.

Mr Jeffs is serving two consecutive terms of five years to life in Utah State Prison on the convictions. The court ruled yesterday that jury instructions on lack of consent were in error. Mr Jeffs also faces criminal charges in Texas. ap