Eighteen Jehovah's Witnesses convicted of unlawfully meeting in a Singapore apartment last February decided to spend between one and four weeks in jail rather than pay court-imposed fines. Another ten agreed to pay fines ranging from $700 to $2,800.

The city-state of 3 million people banned Jehovah's Witnesses in 1972, declaring the aberrant religious group "prejudicial to public welfare" because male adherents refuse compulsory military service.

Subsequently, Jehovah's Witnesses assemblies have been unlawful, even though Singapore's constitution permits freedom of religion.

The 28 Jehovah's Witnesses convicted in November are the first of 69 scheduled to stand trial after four residential raids. Several also face charges of possessing New World Bibles, which were confiscated by police, who said they violated the Undesirable Publications Act.

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