A doomsday religious cult leader was on Monday sentenced to death for ordering his aides to kill six followers between 1990 and 1992.
The Suwon District Court handed down the death penalty to Cho Hui-song, 72, chief of the Yongsaenggyo cult, who had been arrested on charges of plotting to murder his own believers who tried to challenge his doomsday theory or threatened to reveal his wrongdoings.
The court also sentenced to death believer Ra Kyong-ok, 61, on charges of murdering the victims at the request of Cho. Another believer Kim Jin-tae, 64, was given life imprisonment for assisting Ra in the criminal act, while two others were sentenced to 15 years and 12 years for their involvement in the murder.
"Considering all the evidence and witnesses' statements, we concluded that Cho was behind the murders although he denied all the charges," said presiding judge Chong Dae-hong.
"The death penalty is inevitable to separate him from society forever, as the group killed mercilessly without guilt for the sect's sake." he added.
The cult leader has been indicted on charges of ordering Ra and other confidants to kill a total of 10 believers who betrayed its doctrine or left the group from January 1984 to February 1992, while other defendants were indicted on charges of murdering and secretly burying victims in the hills of various regions of the country.