Prosecutor seeks jail for conductor in sect deaths

GRENOBLE, France, April 27 (Reuters) - A prosecutor asked a French court on Friday to jail Swiss orchestra conductor Michel Tabachnik for five years for conspiracy to murder stemming from his involvement in the Order of the Solar Temple doomsday sect.

Tabachnik, an internationally known conductor, is accused of playing a lead role in the sect and inciting cult members into suicide pacts. He denies the charges.

The Solar Temple is thought to be responsible for 74 deaths in France, Switzerland and Canada between 1994 and 1997.

The trial in Grenoble, in the French Alps, has mainly focused on the deaths of 16 cult members, three of them children, whose charred bodies were found laid out in a star pattern in a remote French Alpine forest in December 1995.

Lawyers for some of the victims' families allege all 16 were killed and set on fire by other sect members who fled the scene.

Tabachnik faces up to 10 years in prison in the event of conviction. The verdict is expected to be announced at a later date.

07:08 04-27-01

Copyright 2001 Reuters Limited.All rights reserved.