South Korean religious sect leader extradited from China to face rape charges

The Associated Press/February 20, 2008

Seoul, South Korea: The leader of a South Korean religious sect was extradited back from China on Wednesday to face charges of raping female followers.

Jung Myung-seok, 63, leader of the Jesus Morning Star sect, was arrested in China last May after more than six years on the run. South Korean prosecutors knew he fled to China and asked authorities there to arrest him and send him home to face the rape charges.

Justice Ministry official Kim Hye-woong said Jung will face the same charges specified in last year's extradition request.

Local media have reported that Jung allegedly raped followers and forced them to have group sex with him, saying God allowed him all women in the world and warning they would find themselves "in great trouble" if they rejected his demands.

Jung denies the charges, his followers say.

Bae Jae-yong, one of hundreds of followers who waited for Jung at the airport, called the charges "a distorted rumor that was created by the people who have slandered him ... all fundamental truth will be clarified by him at the prosecutor's office."

Followers were not able to see Jung because prosecutors placed him in a car on the tarmac.

South Korean television network SBS first reported Jung's alleged wrongdoing in 1999. At the time, thousands of followers protested at the TV station over the report.

It is unclear how many followers remain in the sect.

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