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A Canadian man found guilty of having 25 wives – AP

Two former leaders of an isolated polygamous community in Canada were convicted Monday of practicing polygamy after a decades-long legal fight, setting up another potential court battle over the constitutionality of Canada's polygamy laws.

(AP) -- Winston Blackmore, 60, and James Oler, 53, were found guilty by British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan, who said the evidence was clear that Blackmore was married to 25 women at the same time and that Oler was married to five women in the tiny community of Bountiful.

Blackmore, 60, never denied having the wives as part of his religious beliefs that call for "celestial" marriages. His lawyer Blair Suffredine has already said Blackmore would challenge the constitutionality of Canada's polygamy laws if his client was found guilty.

"I'm guilty of living my religion and that's all I'm saying today because I've never denied that," Blackmore told reporters after the verdict. "Twenty-seven years and tens of millions of dollars later, all we've proved is something we've never denied. I've never denied my faith. This is what we expected."

Blackmore and Oler were prosecuted as part of an investigation first launched in the early 1990s by the provincial government.

Under Canadian law, the maximum penalty they will each face is five year in prison. The two will be sentenced at future hearings.

Blackmore and Oler are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a breakaway Mormon sect that believes in plural marriage. The group's main base is in a small community on the Utah-Arizona border in the United States.

Oler was chosen to lead the Canadian community just north of the U.S. state of Idaho following Blackmore's excommunication from the sect in 2002 by Warren Jeffs, considered the prophet and leader of the group.

Source: Al-Alam News Network

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