Accused rapist cult leader faces extradition to Korea

Agence France-Presse/January 2, 2008

China's top court has approved the extradition of a South Korean cult leader accused of raping his female followers, the justice ministry in Seoul said.

China's Supreme People's Court last month upheld a decision by a tribunal in the province of Liaoning to extradite Jeong Myeong-seok, it said.

"It will take several more months until the extradition is carried out following a final decision by the State Council (cabinet)," a ministry official said.

Jeong, aged in his early 60s, set up a cult known as JMS - after his initials. He fled South Korea in 1999, one day after rape allegations against him were aired on national television.

In 2001, Jeong was formally charged in his absence with rape. He was arrested in Hong Kong in 2003 on visa violations, fled an extradition hearing but was detained by Chinese authorities in May last year.

He claims he has received special revelations from God. Former cult members, mostly young girls, have told police they were instructed to undress for a "health check" and to have sex with him to wipe out their sins.

The girls said they were threatened with "spiritual death" if they spoke of their experiences, according to previous reports by Yonhap new agency.

Jeong is still believed to command thousands of followers including students, soldiers, teachers and children, Yonhap reported.

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