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A Moroccan judge last month upheld the convictions of four Christians for smuggling Bibles into Morocco to avoid customs charges. On May 30, police arrested Graham Hutt, a 51-year-old British yachtsman, who has sailed to Morocco for more than 20 years, in M'diq near Tangier.

Earlier, authorities detained Kelly Viinikka, a Canadian who had transported Arabic Bibles by motorcycle from Hutt's yacht to the apartment of French citizen Serge Dechoz. After searching Hutt's yacht and the apartment, police confiscated 1,200 New Testaments and 500 Bibles. They arrested Hutt, Dechoz, Viinikka, and another Canadian, Antero Ylikangas.

The four were subjected to lengthy interrogations during two days without food or water. They were not allowed to contact a lawyer, and were confined to a dank cell. Police released them after they each posted $1,000 bails on June 1. At a June 5 trial, a Tetuoan Court suspended two-month prison sentences, but fined the defendants $42,000 and impounded Hutt's yacht, valued at $250,000.

Hutt told Compass Direct news service that Bibles can be imported and sold legally under Moroccan law, and that he and his friends had been charged only with a customs offense, amounting to a $60 fine for importing Bibles without paying customs duties. However, the only document produced in court was a falsified police report accusing them of illegal entry into the country and endangering national security.

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Four Convicted of Bible Smuggling
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August 10, 1998

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