A South Korean courtroom acquitted on Wednesday the chief of a Christian sect charged with obstructing efforts to stamp out one of many world’s first massive surges of novel coronavirus infections, the Yonhap information company mentioned.
Lee Man-hee, a self-proclaimed messiah who based and heads the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, had been accused of violating the Infectious Illness Management and Prevention Act by offering incomplete lists of church members requested by well being authorities to hint suspected coronavirus infections.
The church was on the centre of the primary main COVID-19 epidemic exterior China early final 12 months, with practically 4,200 of its 310,000 followers contaminated after attending a service within the metropolis of Daegu.
Authorities on the time complained that Lee was not absolutely cooperating when it got here to offering the names of everybody who may need attended providers on the church.
Prosecutors had sought a five-year jail time period and three million received ($2,700) in fines for Lee.
Lee denied any wrongdoing. He apologised that some church members had caught the virus.
The Suwon District Court docket acquitted him of the fees, saying lists of church members didn’t represent key components of epidemiological surveys as outlined within the regulation, Yonhap mentioned.
The courtroom, nevertheless, discovered Lee responsible of embezzling 5.6 billion received ($5.11 million) of church funds to construct a residence, and utilizing authorities amenities for non secular providers with out approval, handing him a four-year suspended jail sentence.
Court docket officers weren’t instantly obtainable for remark.
The church welcomed Lee’s acquittal of the COVID-19 accusations however expressed “deep remorse” that he had been discovered responsible of the opposite fees.
It mentioned it will enchantment to show his innocence.