Arrest warrant issued for pastor

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Arrest warrant issued for pastor

A Seoul court Monday night issued an arrest warrant for a controversial conservative pastor for allegedly violating election law by asking participants in a street rally to support a specific political party in April’s general elections.

The Seoul Central District Court approved the prosecution’s request to arrest Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, saying there is probable cause to detain him for election law violations.

“The defendant, in light of the severity of allegations against him, could opt to escape punishment by fleeing,” the court said.

Jun, chairman of the Christian Council of Korea, is accused of calling for support for a specific political party in the April 15 general elections during an antigovernment outdoor rally in the Gwanghwamun area of central Seoul last year.

Jun has joined forces with several conservative politicians to organize a string of rallies in the central Seoul square to denounce President Moon Jae-in’s major policies.

Jun came under investigation after the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s election commission and a Christian civic group filed separate criminal complaints against him over election law violation.

Election law prohibits electioneering prior to the start of the official period.

After a monthlong probe, Seoul’s Jongno Police Station asked for a pretrial detention warrant for Jun on Feb. 18, and the prosecution accepted the request. A court hearing on the request for Jun’s arrest warrant was originally scheduled for Friday but was postponed to Monday at the pastor’s request.

In December last year, prosecutors requested the same Seoul court detain Jun for allegedly inciting violence against police during a mass rally on Oct. 3 to call for the resignations of Moon and then-Justice Minister Cho Kuk.

But the court refused to issue an arrest warrant at that time.

Jun also stirred up controversy by pushing ahead with a massive antigovernment rally in central Seoul on Saturday in disregard of the central and municipal governments’ ban on outdoor rallies as part of emergency measures to fight the spread of coronavirus infections.

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