The aged chief of a secretive South Korean sect on the centre of the nation’s early coronavirus outbreak was arrested on Saturday for allegedly hindering the federal authorities’s effort to comprise the epidemic.
Lee Man-hee, 88, is the highest of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is usually condemned as a cult.
Individuals linked to the church accounted for better than half of the South’s coronavirus circumstances in February and March, when the nation was enduring one in all many worst early outbreaks on the earth.
As of July 19, better than 5,200 Koreans who’re linked with the sect had been contaminated, making up 38 % of all confirmed circumstances throughout the nation, based mostly on the Korea Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.
Lee is accused of giving inaccurate information of church gatherings and false lists of its members to properly being authorities.
He was taken into custody early Saturday “after the Suwon District Court granted an arrest warrant at 1:20 am”, a court docket docket spokesperson knowledgeable AFP.
The determine talked about there “have been circumstances indicating systematic attempts to destroy evidence” by Lee, Yonhap data firm reported.
Shincheonji has claimed its members face social stigma and discrimination if their beliefs develop into publicly acknowledged, dissuading some from responding to official inquiries.
It launched an announcement later Saturday, stressing Lee’s arrest “doesn’t mean a guilty verdict”.
Lee was solely concerned about authorities’ “excessive requests” for personal particulars, and “never ordered” his subordinates to withhold data, the church added.
The sect, based mostly in 1984, proclaims Lee has donned the mantle of Jesus Christ and might take 144,000 people with him to heaven on the day of judgement. It’s understood to have some 200,000 followers.
Lee can be accused of embezzling 5.6 billion gained ($4.69 million) from church funds and holding spiritual events at public facilities with out approval.
He apologised once more in March for the unfold of the sickness.
The South has since been returning largely to common, exhibiting to have launched the outbreak beneath administration with an in depth “trace, test and treat” programme.
Officers throughout the east Asian nation of 52 million launched 31 new circumstances Saturday, taking the general to 14,336.