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Cult leaders face prosecution on suspicion of assaulting, confining believers

All Headlines 17:37 August 03, 2018

SUWON, South Korea, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- Police said Friday they have arrested a female pastor and three others on charges of relocating hundreds of followers to the Pacific island country of Fiji and using violence against them as part of a religious rite.

Police launched the investigation in September last year after receiving tips that a religious group transferred followers to Fiji after promoting the island as the "last paradise," and assaulted them while preventing them from leaving the island.

On Friday, the International Crime Investigation Team at the Gyeonggi Southern District Police Agency said they wrapped up the investigation with the arrest of four people, including the 59-year-old pastor, and the booking of seven others without physical detention.

Police said they sent the case to the prosecution with a recommendation that the suspects be indicted.

The cult leaders, who have had about 400 followers, relocated to the Fiji Islands in 2014 and are suspected to have assaulted 10 adherents in religious rituals known as "tajakmadang," or a threshing floor.

Police also said they illegally confined the cult's followers, who lived in a group in the Pacific country. They confiscated the passports of members who wished to return home, police said.

In their relocation to Fiji, the cult leaders swindled members out of about 200 million won (around US$177,462), ostensibly to cover expenses related to visa issuance, police said.

Some of the believers sent to prosecutors are charged with neglecting their duty to have their children receive compulsory education, as they took them to Fiji without sending them to school in South Korea.

Police will come up with measures to bring home the cult's remaining followers in Fiji in consultation with the Foreign Ministry and Fijian authorities.

namsh@yna.co.kr
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