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(2nd LD) Court grants bail to Shincheonji leader indicted on charges of obstructing COVID-19 response

All News 21:05 November 12, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; REPLACES photo)

SUWON, South Korea, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- The leader of a minor religious sect that was at the center of the early coronavirus outbreak in South Korea was released on bail on Thursday.

The Suwon District Court, south of Seoul, allowed the bail request of Lee Man-hee, the founder of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, citing a low risk of destroying evidence and his deteriorating health.

The court set the bail bond at 100 million won (US$89,700) and ordered him to stay at his residence and wear an electric device to trace his movement.

The 89-year-old leader was indicted in August for allegedly submitting false documents to health authorities on the whereabouts and number of participants at Shincheonji's gatherings in February when the sect was blamed for spikes in the spread of COVID-19.

He is also accused of embezzling 5.6 billion won from church funds and holding unauthorized religious events from 2015 to 2019.

Since his arrest, he has requested bail, citing poor health.

Appearing in court earlier this month, he pleaded with the court to allow him to be released on bail, saying, "Death would be better than living (in prison)."

Lee Man-hee, the leader of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, is released on bail from a detention center in Suwon, south of Seoul, on Nov. 12, 2020. (Yonhap)


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