Authorities in South Korea have arrested the founding father of a secretive Christian sect on the centre of the nation’s largest coronavirus cluster on costs of obstructing the federal government’s efforts to comprise the outbreak in February and March.
Lee Man-hee is the highly effective head of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is linked to greater than 5,200 coronavirus infections, or 36 % of South Korea’s whole instances.
The 89-year-old was taken into custody on Saturday after a court docket in Suwon District granted an arrest warrant over prosecutors’ considerations that he may tamper with proof.
Prosecutors allege Lee conspired with different sect leaders to withhold data from authorities, together with their assembly locations and the variety of individuals at their gatherings as authorities tried to hint an infection routes in February.
Lee can be suspected of embezzling about 5.6 billion received ($4.7m) in church funds, together with about 5 billion received which he allegedly used to construct a retreat, Yonhap information company reported.
He has beforehand described the novel coronavirus because the “devil’s deed” to cease the sect’s development. The church at the moment has greater than 200,000 followers.
Judge Lee Myeong-chul stated “there have been circumstances indicating systematic attempts to destroy evidence” and contemplating Lee’s standing, “it cannot be ruled out that there will be similar attempts in the future”.
Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they have been cooperating with well being authorities.
In an announcement, the church stated Lee was involved about authorities calls for for members’ private data however by no means tried to cover something.
“The court’s issuance of an arrest warrant doesn’t mean a guilty verdict. All possible efforts will be made to unveil the truth in the upcoming court trials,” it added.
Seven different officers from the group have been indicted on July 28 on costs together with violation of the infectious illness management legislation and obstruction of justice, in accordance with Yonhap.
Three of them have been arrested on July 8.
Lee apologised again in March for the unfold of the illness, after the sect’s department within the southern metropolis of Daegu emerged as the most important cluster in South Korea.
Health authorities used an aggressive test-and-quarantine programme to comprise the outbreak in Daegu and close by cities by April, however the nation has seen a resurgence of the virus within the Seoul metropolitan space since late May.
Officials within the East Asian nation of 52 million introduced 31 new instances Saturday, taking the overall variety of infections to 14,336. At least 301 folks have died.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and information businesses