The Seoul city government has filed a legal complaint against the leaders of a religious group at the heart of the South Korean coronavirus outbreak, on charges including homicide, the city announced in a news release today.
About 60% of all cases nationwide have links to the Shincheonji religious group and its branch in the southern city of Daegu. Many have accused the group of withholding information, hampering official investigations, or discouraging preventative measures like wearing masks — allegations the group and its leaders have denied.
The legal complaint specifically focused on the group’s founder, Lee Man-hee, and 12 other leaders, on charges of homicide, resulting injuries, and violating the Infectious Disease and Control Act. The Seoul government filed the complaint to South Korea’s prosecutors’ office on Sunday evening local time, the release said.
The news release claims that the leaders are “refusing to be tested,” and that they omitted members’ names in a list of attendees submitted to health authorities, which equated submitting “false information and hampering the government’s work.”
“These acts justify homicide and resulting injury according to the criminal laws,” said the release.
What Shincheonji has said: The group and its leaders have denied obstructing government investigations, insisting they have been transparent and cooperative.
The group said it had submitted a full list of attendees to the government, and that any delays or omissions were due to administrative difficulties as everyone was working from home to avoid possible infection.