John Smyth Dies Just As CPS Gives Go-Ahead for Extradition and Prosecution

“More than 80 survivors have come forward about Smyth. They include the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson…. Survivors of abuse and campaigners have expressed dismay at the news that Smyth died before he could be brought to justice.”

Church Times

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=40388&picture=sadness-man-in-the-shadow

Man in Shadow

We have been following the investigation of John Smyth, a British barrister who was alleged to have carried out “sadomasochistic physical abuse” on young men in the 1970s and 1980s. We first heard of the accusations against Smyth when Cathy Newman confronted him in South Africa, where he and his wife have been living for quite some time. See video below.

You can read our previous coverage here, here, and here.

News broke over the weekend that John Smyth had been found dead at his home in Cape Town, South Africa. It has been reported that he may have died of a heart attack following a recent medical procedure. No doubt an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. What is so ironic about the timing of his passing is that we understand Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had just given the police the go-ahead for Smyth’s extradition back to the U.K.

Here is how the news was covered by some British media outlets.

The Telegraph provided an overview of what has occurred:

A former QC and Christian evangelist accused of brutally hitting boys in the 1970’s at a Christian holiday camp where the Archbishop of Canterbury once worked has died.

John Smyth is thought to have suffered a heart attack at his home in Cape Town, South Africa, aged 77, on Saturday morning.

His death comes a year after he was forced to repeatedly reject claims he had used summer camps as a way to recruit young men to a cult in which he subjected them sado-masochistic assaults.

He was accused of handing out up to 800 lashes to more than 20 young men over a four year period in the late 70’s.

Hampshire Police launched an enquiry into the allegations last March and had reportedly recently requested he return to the UK for questioning.

The Most Rev Justin Welby was forced to issue an “unreserved and unequivocal” apology on behalf of the Church of England after admitting last year that the Church had failed to report allegations of abuse by John Smyth QC to the police after allegations came to light as far back as 1982.

Smyth’s family said in a statement:  “At approximately 9am on Sat 11 August, John Smyth died in his home in Cape Town.

“The official cause of death has not yet been made known, but the indicators are that it was a sudden heart attack following a heart procedure earlier in the week. We ask that the family be left alone to grieve his passing.”

The BBC shared this breaking news:

Victim advocate, Andrew Graystone, said Hampshire police informed victims the CPS had asked them to summon Mr Smyth back to the UK for formal questioning with a view to possible charges last week.

The CPS said it was “not in a position to comment at this time”.

The Independent provided the following information:

A 1982 investigation by the Iwerne Trust, which was not made public until 2016, found more than 20 boys were physically abused by Mr Smyth with a cane at his home in Winchester, Hampshire.

However, the findings were not reported to the police and Mr Smyth had previously denied any wrongdoing.

The programme of abuse was thought to have been carried out during a time when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had been working at the camps.

Mr Welby has insisted he had been unaware of the activity and said the Church of England should have done more to investigate the claims at the time.

Mr Smyth later moved to Zimbabwe, where he was also subject to claims of abusive behaviour towards young boys at similar Christian camps.

He faced charges that were later dismissed surrounding the mysterious death of a 16-year-old at one of the events in 1992.

Before his death, he had been running the Justice Alliance of South Africa, an organisation which sought to uphold socially conservative moral values in the country.

Church Times published an excellent summary of the situation. (see excerpt below)

The former Iwerne Trust chairman John Smyth QC, who had been accused of administering brutal beatings in his garden shed to boys whom he had befriended at camps run by the Trust in the 1970s, has died before he could be questioned by police, arrested, or tried.

Smyth suffered a heart attack at his home in Cape Town, South Africa, on Saturday. He was 77. In a statement to the BBC, his family asked to be “left alone” to mourn in private.

The Iwerne Trust, now part of the Titus Trust, ran holiday camps for boys at English public schools in the 1970s. A six-month Channel 4 News investigation, broadcast in February of last year, found that both the Iwerne Trust and Winchester College had learned of allegations of abuse by Smyth in the 1980s, but had failed to report them to the police (News, 10 February 2017).

One man told the programme that he and other boys had been beaten so severely by Smyth that they had to wear nappies to staunch the bleeding.

Channel 4 also reported that a “senior figure” in the Trust wrote to Smyth to tell him him to leave the country. Smyth moved to Zimbabwe, where he continued to run holiday camps for Zambezi Ministries; and then to South Africa.

Smyth was reportedly wanted for questioning by the Crown Prosecution Service when he died. Hampshire Police launched an investigation into the case in March last year.

The Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop for safeguarding, said in a statement on Saturday that the reports of Smyth’s death would be “very difficult” for survivors, who had “bravely come forward to share their experiences of his harrowing treatment, and all those who suffered, knowing that the police investigation could not now be completed.

If you can stomach it, the Ruston Report (which at one time was strictly confidential) provides details of what happened to those beaten by John Smyth.

Our hearts break for what these young men had to endure. Their lives have been devastated, and now just as justice was about to be served, Smyth escaped judgment here on earth. We hope and pray those hurt by John Smyth will take solace in the fact that he must now face the ultimate judge.


Comments

John Smyth Dies Just As CPS Gives Go-Ahead for Extradition and Prosecution — 65 Comments

  1. Vengeance is mine says the Lord—as a survivor of major abuse whose abusers died unpunished this is not an idle statement on my part….

    I believe with all my heart and mind that I am able to trust God when he says “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.:

    From painful experience I can say that even seeing your abuser in court is not enough to ease the pain.

    To these victims and others I urge you to trust God when you feel you can’t trust Him or anyone else….

    This evil is bigger than we are and only God is strong, trustworthy & Holy enough to deal with it.

    Turn your eyes on Jesus!!! He is enough.

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  2. Smyth has not gotten away with anything, at least not according to Jesus, “For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:30 At a time like this it is important to remember that. I have seen hell. It is much worse than any punishment man ever concocted. That includes Roman crucifixion.

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  3. Smyth has been brought to sufficient heavenly justice, seeing that we live by faith. On to the next case Wartburg. May his victim(s) find God’s favor. ATB Sòpy

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  4. Molly245:
    Vengeance is mine says the Lord—as a survivor of major abuse whose abusers died unpunished this is not an idle statement on my part….

    I believe with all my heart and mind that I am able to trust God when he says “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.:

    From painful experience I can say that even seeing your abuser in court is not enough to ease the pain.

    To these victims and others I urge you to trust God when you feel you can’t trust Him or anyone else….

    This evil is bigger than we are and only God is strong, trustworthy & Holy enough to deal with it.

    Turn your eyes on Jesus!!!He is enough.

    Excellent post, Molly.

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  5. Before his death, he had been running the Justice Alliance of South Africa, an organisation which sought to uphold socially conservative moral values in the country.

    Why Am I NOT Surprised?

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  6. No doubt an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. What is so ironic about the timing of his passing is that we understand Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had just given the police the go-ahead for Smyth’s extradition back to the U.K.

    If I were the Medical Examiner, I’d be checking REAL hard for evidence of suicide.
    The timing is just TOO convenient.

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  7. “Smyth escaped judgment here on earth”

    Such abusers will face an accountability system in Heaven, even if they have not experienced one here on earth. Judgment by Christendom (yes, Scripture says we are to judge) should now be focused on the system which enabled his abuse by sheltering him for decades. Mr. Smyth was covered by a religious hierarchy which turned their ears from the cries of his victims, church leaders who failed to report his crimes. While his church finally excommunicated him, it was too little too late.

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  8. Whilst Christians may feel that he has now faced justice, some of these victims may have been pushed away from faith by these horrific & really messed up beatings. They aren’t going to feel like justice has been done, which is why it is important that the process of law is instituted fast when this kind of criminality is exposed.

    I also agree wit HUG, the timing is very er, timely. Smyth was a QC & a smart man who knew what would have been coming.

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  9. Beakerj:

    Whilst Christians may feel that he has now faced justice, some of these victims may have been pushed away from faith by these horrific & really messed up beatings. They aren’t going to feel like justice has been done, which is why it is important that the process of law is instituted fast when this kind of criminality is exposed.

    I also agree wit HUG, the timing is very er, timely. Smyth was a QC & a smart man who knew what would have been coming.

    Me three, I’d be looking into the possibility of suicide as well.

    I think young Mr. Smyth ought be questioned, in an attempt to get closure for the victims. Let’s hope he’s not so caught up in his church stuff in Maryland (busily destroying what remains of Covenant Life Church so he can set up his own cult of personality) that he can’t go back to the UK and be questioned by the Crown Prosecution Service.

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  10. it’s all too suspiciously convenient.

    brings to mind Kenneth Lay of the Enron scandal. was found guilty of 10 counts of securities fraud. a few months before sentencing, he passed away in Aspen (vacationing?) due to a heart attack.

    i suspect there are substances a person can take to bring this on that leave no trace, if you have the means and the know-how to procure them.

    (i’m sure i’ve read too many spy books)

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  11. Those center stage victims will be brought to light from Wartburg’s standpoint as requiring further justice— if at all possible.

    ATB

    Sòpy

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  12. Unpopular opinion:

    What he did is terrible on the highest level. No question.

    But saying “he got what he deserved” type thing is reserved for God just like His justice and vengeance.

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  13. Headless Unicorn Guy: Why Am I NOT Surprised?

    That bit you quoted jumped out at me, too. Smyth was one of the most convincing living advertisements for rejecting “socially conservative moral values” I’ve seen to date.

    Who in their right mind would want those kinds of values if the underpinnings are brutal beatings and the kind of deviance he epitomized?

    How can that kind of “conservative morality” be considered superior to loving, caring, consensual relationships?

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  14. srs,

    In my opinion, saying 1st in a setting like this is like taking a selfie with a smile in a courtroom where they’re talking about some kid being abused.

    It’s just my opinion though.

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  15. John Johnson:
    srs,

    In my opinion, saying 1st in a setting like this is like taking a selfie with a smile in a courtroom where they’re talking about some kid being abused.

    It’s just my opinion though.

    JJ,

    Don’t worry about it. It’s just a thing we do around here – happens with pretty much every post. There has got to be a pinch of comic relief now and then, considering the gravity of the material discussed here. I don’t think anyone here takes it lightly…

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  16. A.Stcy,

    The man who committed crimes against me is most likely dead now. I really don’t know. He has never, to my knowledge, been charged with a crime. But I have been thinking about how I would feel if I knew that he had died for sure, suddenly, without being tried and convicted for his crimes. I believe I would feel very angry, and I am sure that I would express that anger in a variety of ways. So I can understand people saying “he got what he deserved…” Conversely, I have never understood those who “forgive” a criminal as soon as they are interviewed by the media as if that is the gold standard of Christian behavior.

    Part of having faith (for me) lies in the knowledge that God will indeed judge and punish the wicked. It has taken many years to leave his crimes and his punishment in God’s hands, recognizing that by His grace and because of Jesus I do not get what I deserve. That is something we confess at every worship time in our church.

    The sad fact is that we sinners often hope that other people get what they have coming to them, and often rejoice when it happens. Considering the circumstances, I think we need to cut people some slack in how they express themselves. My thoughts over the years toward the perpetrators of these crimes is far worse than anything I have ever openly expressed, so I am guilt in that regard. But, thankfully I am forgiven because of Jesus. It just takes time, a lot of grace, and a lot of understanding to help the victims.

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  17. Noevangelical,

    “The sad fact is that we sinners often hope that other people get what they have coming to them, and often rejoice when it happens.”
    ++++++++++++

    i see it as a collective sigh that justice has been served (however imperfectly meted out it may have been). i think we can get carried away with the motives-o-meter.

    i think in some way all creation sighs, as well.

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  18. refugee: Chantry and his defenders seem to have been formed in the same mold as Smyth

    Christians flogging Christians is a strange practice. Christians who think it’s OK for other Christians to beat Christians are even stranger. What love is this?!

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  19. Max,

    The sad thing is, a lot in their camp do not believe that children can be Christians. And considering that a whole lot of them believe that the most “loving” thing a Christian can do is tell an unbeliever that they are going to hell, is it any wonder that physical violence is involved? It’s really difficult to fathom. Maybe they are just following the lead of the founder of their brand of religion…

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  20. Noevangelical: a whole lot of them believe that the most “loving” thing a Christian can do is tell an unbeliever that they are going to hell

    Uhhhh … this is not what Scripture had in mind when it advised Christians to “tell the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

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  21. “People in the Church and the Iwerne movement have known about John Smyth’s abuse since 1982. . . In all those years, nothing was done to stop him, nothing was done to help the victims … The Church could have stopped him at any time since 2013. . . It is as if the Church just reaches for the shelf, tosses out another apology, and carries on.” (Andrew Graystone)

    https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/17-august/news/uk/john-smyth-qc-77-accused-of-shed-beatings-dies-in-cape-town

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  22. Beakerj:
    Whilst Christians may feel that he has now faced justice, some of these victims may have been pushed away from faith by these horrific & really messed up beatings. They aren’t going to feel like justice has been done, which is why it is important that the process of law is instituted fast when this kind of criminality is exposed.

    I agree with you totally on the need both for better laws and for as much help, support and love that we can give to all victims.

    Nothing about referring to his heavenly judgement discounts the need for either of these things.

    Victims need our support for the rest of their lives. As a victim of multiple abusers, I will always need support.

    But–and this is a big one for all victims I have ever spoken with—we need to know that right now, in our situation, this particular abuser Will. Have. Consequences. Will. Have . punishment.

    that is why I urged 2 things in my post; they are not contradictory…..

    Victims need to know about accountability for the abusers. this includes better laws and victim support at all levels.

    But, They also need to know how seriously ,Seriously God will pursue judgement on their abusers if they are ever to any true peace and any measure of healing going forward.

    While we work together here on earth to combat this evil, there is a place for knowing what our Holy God is doing on our behalf in eternity.

    It takes both things.

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  23. Molly245,

    I get that, I’m just aware that the faith of some victims does not survive, so the second strand is meaningless to them.

    I’m so glad you have support & faith.

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  24. I am very sorry his victims did not get their well deserved day in court and I also suspect that more facts may have come out that may have implicated others for complicity, cover ups or failure to report what they had knowledge of, so that is disappointing, as well. Who is the person who warned him to flee the country and what in the world were that person’s motives?

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  25. elastigirl,

    I don’t suppose it has ever entered into anyone else’s mind to wonder if we can be cetain these guys are really dead? Silly, I’m sure, but how do we know . . . there is so much we simply take on faith – mostly because we have little choice. Something about the statement from the family to ‘leave us alone’ just didn’t sit right. It is usually requested to ‘respect our privacy’, or the like. Leave us alone?

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  26. Lydia:
    Beakerj,

    Victims of the grooming gangs must feel the same except it was the authorities protecting the gangs) traffickers and still do. They have nowhere to turn.

    Remember REVEREND Tony Jones and “Code of Blue”?

    Abusers don’t just groom their targets. Always great to have “Friends in High Places” like that Bokor in Disney’s The Prindess and the Frog.

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  27. Lydia,

    Are we talking about English based gangs here? There are many people who now advocate for those victims, though it was a long time coming. A lot of things have changed, thankfully, including people like me who literally walk the streets teaching young people how to avoid such stuff & who will believe them if they speak up.

    But yes, for all the unheard victims of the world, I wish for swift justice.

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  28. Beakerj: Whilst Christians may feel that he has now faced justice, some of these victims may have been pushed away from faith by these horrific & really messed up beatings. They aren’t going to feel like justice has been done, which is why it is important that the process of law is instituted fast when this kind of criminality is exposed.

    Indeed.

    Justice delayed is justice denied, as they say.

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  29. I know that there are many dog loving Wartburgers so can I ask for your prayers for Linus, my oldest terrier, who is almost 14. As of today he is on home hospice with me for liver failure, he’s had a couple of bad bouts of stomach issues/vomiting, resulting in needing IV fluids, but nothing is really working, & it’s clear his liver is shutting down. So now is the time for him to just gently toddle towards the Bridge, only involving the vet if he becomes distressed (after discussion with her). He’s mostly sleeping, eating & drinking almost nothing & is happy & peaceful. He’s just one of the sweetest funniest dogs God ever made & I want him to go happy, & ow ow ow, I will miss him.

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  30. Beakerj: prayers for Linus, my oldest terrier

    Sorry to hear about Linus. We lost a 14-yo dog on Good Friday of liver failure, she stopped eating and was wasting away; we only had her for a year (she’d been dumped at a high-kill shelter by family when owner went into a Nursing Home, but she was so sweet and loyal).
    So we hope for a comfortable fading away for Linus, and that you have comfort in knowing you gave him a good home!

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  31. Beakerj,

    You got it Beaks (will pray).
    Mrs. Muff and me have two little Chihuahua-mixes with special needs because they’re elderly. We consider them to be as real human family members, so we know exactly how you feel, cuz’ we feel the same toward ours.

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  32. Beakerj,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your sick doggie. My wire-haired dachshund Annie died of liver issues as a result of Cushing’s. Praying for a peaceful, painless passing for your fur-child.

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  33. Max: In my long lifetime, I’ve had dogs treat me like a friend … and friends treat me like a dog.

    Google up what Mark Twain had to say about dogs and men.

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  34. I suspect that his death provides a measure of comfort and protection knowing he no longer walks the earth. There is no fear, however sublimated, that he will ever hurt anyone again.

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  35. refugee: That bit you quoted jumped out at me, too. Smyth was one of the most convincing living advertisements for rejecting “socially conservative moral values” I’ve seen to date.
    Who in their right mind would want those kinds of values if the underpinnings are brutal beatings and the kind of deviance he epitomized?

    I think it might be some kind of compensating.
    Or handling guilt by Virtue Signalling, immersing in a Righteous Cause or Activism (one which doesn’t interfere with your own Dirty Deeds Done in the Dark). “SEE? I’M ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS! SEE? SEE? SEE?”

    During my early days in Furry Fandom (when it first split off and coalesced into a separate fandom), we had a couple sexual predator types, including one high-profile SMOF who’d Virtue Signal constantly about being anti-smoking.

    SMOF = “Secret Master of Fandom”; someone of popular importance within a fandom but without any official position/recognition. Often referring to a celebrity or dominant personality. From early SF litfandom.

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  36. Thanks all for praying. My beloved Linus went to his rest today in the presence of me & his Dad (my almost ex-husb who really stepped up for once). He had a lovely few days of visits from friends who have loved him since he was a tiny pup, as well as being allowed silly food such as burgers. What a gift this little canine comedian was to me, bringing joy every day for so long. Kiss all the Wartburg pups tonight.

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  37. Beakerj,

    I am so sorry. Every time I have gone through the death of a pug, I claim I am not going to rip out my heart again. Within days, I am back on the rescue sites to find another one to adopt, fully knowing my heart will experience joy then the pain once again.

    My Petunia never wanted to leave the house and backyard where she felt safe. I scattered her ashes under the house so she would never have to leave. I told Buttercup that she is here because of Petunia who was an abused, black female pug. And now I start to tear up for both you and me.

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  38. Nimseven: He led thousands of young men and womoen to the Lord.

    “If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if I give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing. This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience … it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance … In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.” (1 Corinthians 13)

    Beating children?! What love is this?!!

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  39. dee,

    Thanks Dee. I’m so sorry to hear about Petunia, I’m so happy she had you as her last & best home. I feel weary & sad & bleak today. My world feels different without my silly curly boy, who thought I was the best thing since cheese.

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  40. readingalong,

    I’m so happy you took this oldie on & gave her a good last year. People can be really rotten to dogs. Linus was in the peculiarly privileged position of being known & loved from birth, enjoyed & cherished every day of his life, & will be missed forever. I wish all dogs could have the life of Linus.

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  41. TS00:
    TS00,

    And yes, there is always the chance he was conveniently suicided . . .

    “Shorty committed suicide with a little help from us.”
    — Charles Manson

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