Sect leader Oliver Shanti in court in disease glass cage

Reuters/August 26, 2009

A sect leader and suspected paedophile has appeared before a court in a glass cage to stop his highly infectious disease spreading.

Ulrich S., alias Oliver Shanti (60), wore a mouth mask and rubber gloves as he listened to the charges read out against him in Munich. He stands accused of abusing two girls and four boys a total of 314 times.

He is suffering from MRSA-Keim, a rare illness made even more dangerous by its resistance to antibiotics, and also has cancer.

But the charges against him, all of which he denies, are just as serious. "I didn't assault any children. I can assure you," he said.

He claims the allegations are part of a conspiracy masterminded by his business partner to get his share of a company.

Shanti has said on several occasions that he loves children and they love him.

He insisted he is homosexual and as long as he can remember was only interested in young men.

According to state prosecutors, Ulrich S. has been gathering a group of supporters around him who regard him as a guru and spiritual leader since the 1970s.

He lived with them initially in the Bavarian forest and Munich. In the 80s they started a commune in Finca, Portugal.

They earn their money by producing and selling religious music. Shanti CDs have been on music store shelves for years.

From the mid-80s to the end of the 90s he is alleged to have had sex with children. The victims were mainly kids of his supporters.

The case was brought to light by a mother from Berlin who sent her cancer-struck son to the sect's commune for a change of air.

After years of being on the run Ulrich S. was arrested at the end of June in Lisbon and brought to Germany in July.

According to his supporters, Ulrich S. will be able to refute all the charges.

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