South Korean Authorities File Criminal Complaint Asking For Murder Investigation Against Shincheonji Church of Jesus

South Korean Authorities File Criminal Complaint Asking For Murder Investigation Against Shincheonji Church of JesusPic Courtesy: UPI

As death toll mounts to 22 and over 4000 cases of infections in South Koreas, the country’s officials have initiated a criminal complaint requesting a murder investigation into the leaders of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Christian sect at the epicentre of the epidemic claiming the church should be liable for its refusal to cooperate with efforts to stop the disease, The South China Morning Post reported.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said that the total number of people who have succumbed to the deadly virus is now 22.

Authorities are bracing up for number of infections to rise further as tests are performed on more than 260,000 followers of Shincheonji Church of Jesus which is said to linked to more than half the cases.

Founded in 1984 by Lee Man-hee who claims that he is the second coming of Jesus, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus has 12 branches in South Korea and over 200,000 followers. It has expanded overseas and set up a branch last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The Church is said to have invited Koreans from northeastern China to South Korea as part of their evangelical work.

Shincheonji, which means "new heaven and earth" in Korean, has been described as an apocalyptic Christian group. The followers believe that founder has donned the mantle of Jesus Christ and will take 144,000 people with him to heaven on the day of judgment.

Lee also teaches he is the only person who can interpret the Bible and promises to take 144,000 people to heaven with him on the Day of Judgement. Lee has called the coronavirus "an act of the devil who saw the rapid growth of Shincheonji and wants to destroy our advancement".