Australian abduction charge dropped

AAP in Herald Sun (Australia)/September 2, 2005
By Lauren Ahwan

Abduction charges against two Australian members of a religious sect have been dropped in a Kenyan court.

Roland and Susan Gianstefani, members of the Jesus Christians, appeared in court today charged with abduction following the disappearance of Kenyan journalist Betty Waitherero Njoroge and her seven-year-old son, Joshua.

The charges were dropped after Ms Njoroge attended the court hearing and presented an affidavit, Jesus Christians founder Dave McKay said.

Ms Njoroge stated in the affidavit that she had joined the Jesus Christians voluntarily.

"I affirm that both Roland and Susan Gianstefani are innocent of these false charges," she said.

The Jesus Christians had claimed the charges were unfounded, and were laid in an effort to force Ms Njoroge to relinquish custody of Joshua to her wealthy father.

The Gianstefanis, from New South Wales, were given suspended six-month jail sentences in 2000 by a court in England after refusing to reveal the whereabouts of an English teenager who left home to join the Jesus Christians.

Bobby Kelly, 16, disappeared in June 2000, saying he wanted to stay with the group.

He was found a month later living with two men in a tent in a Hampshire forest.

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