|Lee Man-hee, the founder of Shincheonji, speaks during a press conference held on March 3, 2020, in Gyeonggi Province. A court on Jan. 13, 2021, acquitted him of obstructing the government's response to COVID-19. Korea Times file|
A local court on Wednesday acquitted the leader of a minor religious sect of charges of obstructing the government's response to COVID-19 during an outbreak at his church last year.
Lee Man-hee, the 89-year-old founder of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, was indicted in August on charges of misleading health authorities on the size and locations of the church's gatherings in February, which were blamed for a massive spike in coronavirus cases in the country.
Prosecutors sought a five-year prison sentence and a 3 million won (US$2,738) fine for Lee, saying he mocked the government's authority and obstructed its efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Lee has denied the charges against him. (Yonhap)