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Seoul church officials, members indicted for allegedly violating in-person worship ban

Officials and members of a Seoul church at the center of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases have been indicted on charges of violating the government's no-assembly order imposed to control the spread of the new coronavirus, the prosecution said Wednesday.

The Seoul Northern District Prosecutors Office said 14 people connected to Sarang Jeil Church, including former Gyeonggi Gov. Kim Moon-soo, have been charged with violating the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.

They attended the church's in-person worship services up to four times from March 29 to April 19, despite the Seoul city government's administrative order not to do so, prosecutors said.

The church's leading pastor Jun Kwang-hoon is suspected of contributing to a resurgence of the new coronavirus by leading anti-government protests in central Seoul in mid-August that thousands of people attended.

The country's new daily infections had been in triple digits for more than a month since Aug. 14 due to cases tied to the church and the rally before briefly falling below 100.

Of the 14 people, six church officials, Kim and a lawyer will face trial, while six others were given summary orders, which will likely lead to fines, according to the district prosecutors' office.

Meanwhile, the prosecutors also indicted 18 people for allegedly violating a self-quarantine order from May 29 to Wednesday. Twelve others were indicted for violating a no-assembly order by running high-risk bars or door-to-door businesses during the same period.

The prosecution warned of continuing a stern response against those who impede antivirus efforts. (Yonhap)