From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk (Stig Agermose) Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 03:16:22 +0100 Fwd Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 05:15:33 -0500 Subject: Members Of German UFO Cult Released From the Las Vegas Sun. URL: http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/1998/jan/13/011300257.html ******* Today: January 13, 1998 at 15:22:05 PST German Cult Members Released ASSOCIATED PRESS SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Canary Islands (AP) -- Nineteen Germans linked to a suspected doomsday religious sect were released without charge Tuesday, a day after being arrested for allegedly planning to take part in a mass suicide. The 19, including three children, were taken into custody late Monday after police searched a house owned by their jailed leader, said Mari Paz Bernal, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry. The leader, Heide Fittkau-Garthe, was arrested last week and accused of an earlier plot to lead her 31 followers in a mass suicide. According to police, the original scheme called for the followers to kill themselves on Jan. 8 -- the day they reportedly believed the world would end. Fittkau-Garthe has denied the claims of a group plot to take their lives. The followers, police said, believed a space ship would come and pick up their bodies at Teide mountain on Tenerife, one of seven islands in the Canary archipelago, located off the northwest African coast. Police said they were tipped to a second suicide plan by the mother of one of the cult members. Bernal refused to say whether the release of the 19 meant that authorities no longer believed the second suicide plan existed. Police said they would continue to monitor the Germans, who were staying in Fittkau-Garthe's house, but they were free to leave the country. The other 12 cult members, who were in Germany, were not arrested, she said. The sect, whose name was not released, has been linked to the Order of the Solar Temple, whose followers have carried out mass suicides in Canada, France and Switzerland. The attorney for Fittkau-Garthe, a 57-year-old German psychologist currently charged with attempted murder and inducement to suicide, insists the allegations are unfounded. Enrique Porres says his client administers "spiritual therapy" that has nothing to do with mass suicide. During their search of Fittkau-Garthe's home, police discovered a child's drawing of a UFO and then concocted the space ship story, he says. All contents copyright 1998 Las Vegas SUN, Inc.
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