KARLSRUHE, West Germany -- A court Wednesday ordered Ma Anand Sheela, a former personal secretary of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and two other women held for possible extradition to the United States on attempted murder charges.
A spokesman for Prosecutor Ernst Bauer, who ordered the arrest of the trio Monday night at their Black Forest hotel, said the United States has 40 days to submit documents outlining the case against the three former members of theguru's Oregon commune.
The court for the West German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg will then consider whether the American extradition request should be granted. The final decision will be made by the federal Justice Ministry in Bonn, the spokesman said.
Held were Sheela, 35, an Indian married to a Swiss, who was charged as Sheela Bernstiel; Catherine Jane Elsea, 40, of Australia, alias Ma Shanti Bhandra, and Diane Evonne Onang, 37, of the United States, alias Ma Anand Puja.
Puja is a Filipino nurse practioner who ran the commune's health clinic.
Bauer said U.S. authorities have accused Sheela, once the guru's top aide, and the two other women of trying to poison Dr. George Meredith, the guru's personal physician also known as Swami Devaraj. Sheela also is charged with conspiracy to violate U.S. immigration laws by arranging sham marriages.
Rajneesh, 53, and six followers from his Oregon commune were arrested in Charlotte, N.C., Monday when their two chartered jets stopped en route to Bermuda, prosecutors said.
The government contends Rajneesh was fleeing a sealed 35-count federal indictment that charged he arranged fake marriages between U.S. citizens and his foreign followers to allow them to remain in the United States.
Four other sect members surrendered in Portland, Ore., Monday to answer similar charges.
Sheela and about 20 members of the Ranjeesh sect fled the Oregon ranch last month and came to West Germany from Switzerland after splitting with the guru, who accused them of trying to murder his friends and turning the ranch into a concentration camp.
Sheela accused the Bhagwan of desiring expensive motor cars and watches.
West German followers of the guru planned to demonstrate Thursday in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Bonn against his treatment by American authorities, a spokesman for the movement said.
Meredith (Devaraj), the man allegedly poisoned, is the husband of Ma Prem Hasya, who replaced Sheela as personal secretary to Rajneesh.
According to an affidavit filed by Oregon State Police Lt. Dean Renfrow, Meredith became ill after Bhadra jabbed in the left buttock while attending a celebration at Rajneeshpuram.
Renfrow said witnesses told him Bhadra leaned toward Meredith and whispered in his ear. The doctor 'suddenly jumped up and began shouting, 'Shanti B. has poisoned me.''
'Very quickly, Devaraj became violently ill and lost control of his bodily functions,' Renfrow said. 'Taru (a witness) helped Devaraj outside, and he fell on the ground and began to convulse.'
Renfrow said Devaraj was taken to the commune infirmary, where another doctor began treating him.
'While Devaraj was there, Ma Anand Puja arrived and discarded Devaraj's awaiting medications. Furthermore, Puja delayed Devaraj's transfer to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, for needed medical treatment,' the affidavit said.