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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 22:41 GMT 23:41 UK
US sect leader to be extradited
Warren Jeffs appears in court
Mr Jeffs was escorted by armed guards as he appeared in court
The leader of a polygamist sect has agreed to be extradited to Utah on charges that he arranged marriages between underage girls and older men.

Warren Jeffs, 50, who was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, appeared in a Las Vegas court on Thursday.

He was arrested on Monday when a Nevada Highway Patrol pulled him over along with his brother and one of his wives.

Mr Jeffs leads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in Arizona and Utah.

The leader of the 10,000-strong FLDS was surrounded by police in bulletproof vests as he appeared in court, but did not have a lawyer.

Both Arizona and Utah have a warrant for Mr Jeffs, but Utah will prosecute him first because it has a stronger case and more serious charges of rape by accomplice.

Path to heaven

The sect leader went into hiding in May after being charged in Arizona with sexual misconduct for allegedly arranging marriages between minors and older men.

Mr Jeffs, who is reputed to have 70 wives, took over the leadership of the church after his father Rulon died in 2002.

The sect split from the Mormon Church more than a century ago after the latter renounced polygamy.

The FLDS dominates the towns of Colorado City, in Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, less than a mile away.

Members believe a man must marry at least three wives in order to ascend to heaven.

Polygamy is illegal in the US, but the authorities have reportedly been reluctant to confront the FLDS for fear of sparking a tragedy similar to the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, which led to the deaths of around 80 members.

However, correspondents say the church is coming under increasing pressure from authorities in Utah and Arizona.

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