The deceptive Shincheonji Church of Jesus was at the centre of public anger early last year over a surge in cases traced to its fans.
The senior leader of a deceptive spiritual sect at the centre of an early coronavirus break out in South Korea has actually been found not guilty of hindering the federal government’s virus prevention efforts.
However a district court ruled on Wednesday that Lee Man-hee was guilty of embezzling billions of won from his organisation and offered a suspended prison sentence.
The Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is typically condemned as a cult, was at the centre of huge debate early in 2015 when it emerged that the church represented over half of South Korea’s coronavirus cases.
At the time, the nation was sustaining one of the worst early break outs of the disease outside China. It later on brought the infection under control with widespread testing and contact tracing and stringent quarantine procedures.
Shincheonji’s leader Lee, 89, was taken into custody in August and accused of giving health authorities incorrect records of church gatherings and incorrect lists of its members.
District attorneys last month asked for a five-year jail term.
But the Suwon District Court cleared him of violating the transmittable disease control law.
Lee apologised in March for the spread of the disease, two times getting to his knees to bow prior to reporters, his head to the floor.
” Although it was not deliberate, lots of people have been infected,” he stated at the time.
” I seek the forgiveness of the people.”
The church has also apologised, while more than 3,500 of its members who made it through the infection contributed blood plasma to help treatment research study.
Lee, who was jailed in August, was convicted on a different charge of embezzling more than 5.7 billion Korean won ($ 5.2 m) from Shincheonji and sending incorrect applications to hold religious events at public sports centers.
He was provided a three-year suspended prison term.
Researchers state the sect proclaims Lee has put on the mantle of Jesus Christ and will take 144,000 individuals with him to paradise on the day of judgement.
In February, more than 1.4 million individuals signed a petition on the South Korean presidential office website requiring its dissolution.
Shincheonji is understood to have some 200,000 fans and has actually claimed its members deal with social preconception and discrimination if their beliefs end up being openly known, detering some from reacting to main inquiries.
In recent weeks South Korea has numerous times taped more than 1,000 brand-new cases a day– low by international requirements, however its highest figures to date– prompting the authorities to increase social distancing constraints and step up screening.