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Hunchback's hump found in church raid

October 3, 2001

LOME, Togo (Reuters) -- Police in Togo said Wednesday they had found a hunchback's hump, vulture eggs, hyena paws and a panther's pelt when they raided the church of a pastor accused of using satanic practices to woo worshippers.

Police said on Togolese television they raided Pastor Kokouvi Agbekossi's Church of the Lord for the Adoption on Monday after an anonymous tip-off and found three ceramic pots, one by the entrance and two near the altar.

All were crammed full of fetishes, objects believed to have magical powers.

Because human remains had been found in the church, there would probably be an investigation, police said, and they were holding Agbekossi and witch-doctor Roger Dossou Tchoumado.

The pastor said he had enlisted Tchoumado to supply the objects, giving him a down-payment of $112 and a promise of more money once business started to flourish.

Chief Police Commissioner Yoma Pissang called on people in Togo to "unmask these unscrupulous individuals" who set up churches to wheedle money out of parishioners.

But still hopeful of getting the rest of his money from the pastor, Tchoumado said the case showed fetishism should be favored over "imported religions."

"These so-called pastors say they have their own God, but if they still need to use us secretly, despite denigrating us on television and radio, then it's a victory," he said.

Competition is fierce in Togo between rival churches representing numerous interpretations of Christianity. Over 400 requests to create places of worship are pending.


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