The chief of a secretive spiritual sect that was on the middle of a coronavirus outbreak in South Korea final 12 months obtained a three-year jail time period on Wednesday on fees of embezzling church cash.
However Lee Man-hee, 89, the founding father of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, was acquitted on a cost of conspiring to impede the well being authorities’ efforts to struggle the coronavirus. Mr. Lee’s jail time period was suspended for 4 years, which signifies that he’ll stay free until he commits against the law inside that point.
The fast unfold of the virus among the many church’s worshipers in Daegu, a metropolis within the nation’s southeast, in February and early March final 12 months briefly made South Korea dwelling to the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak outdoors China. A complete of 5,213 instances have been discovered amongst church members and their contacts, based on authorities information.
Prosecutors arrested Mr. Lee in August on fees that he and different church officers had obstructed the federal government’s efforts to struggle the epidemic by not absolutely disclosing the variety of worshipers and their gathering locations. Mr. Lee was additionally accused of embezzling 5.6 billion received, or $5.1 million, from church funds to construct an expensive “peace palace” north of Seoul, the capital.
He was additionally accused of utilizing public services for spiritual actions with out permission from the native authorities.
Mr. Lee was launched on bail in November. On Wednesday, a decide within the district courtroom of Suwon, south of Seoul, dominated that a failure to supply a full listing of worshipers and church services didn’t quantity to impeding the federal government’s disease-control efforts.
Mr. Lee’s church welcomed the acquittal and mentioned he would enchantment to a better courtroom to attempt to reverse his conviction on embezzlement and different fees.