Ugandan police seize magic trick from preacher

KAMPALA Tue Jul 10, 2007 11:30am BST

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KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan police are holding a Ghanaian preacher over a stage magic device they fear may dupe people into believing they have experienced miracles.

Customs officials seized the Electric Touch device -- which magicians use to give small electric shocks to volunteers -- from "Prophet" Obiri Yeboah at the airport last week, the state owned New Vision daily reported on Tuesday.

The pastor heads one of many Pentecostal churches in Uganda, receiving large sums of money from congregations seeking miracle cures for diseases or help with financial problems.

The Electric Touch device is usually sold in magic shops alongside card tricks, magic coins and disappearing balls.

"With a simple touch, make a fluorescent bulb glow on and off at your command, make confetti move, charge a spoon and watch as it shocks a volunteer!" says one online magic shop selling the device.

"People could be duped to think it is a miracle," the New Vision quoted Civil Aviation Authority security chief Herman Owomugisha as saying.

Officials are worried about the proliferation of "miracle" churches in Uganda, many of which claim to cure HIV/AIDS.

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