17 Aug 2018

Grace Road Church members released after being detained in Fiji

4:13 pm on 17 August 2018

The six people detained in Fiji after a raid on a church accused of slavery by South Korean authorities have been released without charge.

Grace Road Church's rice plantation in Navua, south of Suva. The plantation is said to be in preparation for the armageddon.

Grace Road Church's rice plantation in Navua, south of Suva. The plantation is said to be in preparation for the armageddon. Photo: Grace Road Group

They were released with the intervention of the Attorney General's office.

The senior followers of Grace Road Church were detained on Tuesday and Wednesday in a collaboration between Fiji and South Korean police and immigration authorities.

The church's leader, Shin Ok-ju, was arrested last month in South Korea, accused of enslaving some 400 followers in Fiji.

[Read more about Grace Road Church, what it's accused of, and its business links in Fiji https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/363988/fiji-govt-tight-lipped-on-links-to-korean-cult-accused-of-slavery]

One of the legal team representing the six Korean nationals in Fiji, Ronald Gordon, said he received a call late at night on Tuesday when a raid was being carried out at Grace Road's plantation in Navua.

In an interview with RNZ Pacific, he said his team sought an immediate injunction to stop a deportation, which he was told could have been imminent.

The six were due to appear in court on Friday, but on Thursday night they were released without charge after the Attorney General's office intervened.

Mr Gordon welcomed that decision, saying his clients' rights were violated.

"The Fijian constitution guarantees the right to liberty," he said. "So because we were instructed that they weren't aware as to why these people were taken into custody, we made an application for them to be presented in court for those who have to explain to the court.

"But what happened is last night, they got released with the cooperation of the Attorney General's chambers."

Shin Ok-ju, the founder of Grace Road Church, has been arrested in South Korea, accused of enslaving some 400 followers in Fiji.

Shin Ok-ju, the founder of Grace Road Church, has been arrested in South Korea, accused of enslaving some 400 followers in Fiji. Photo: Grace Road Church

However, Mr Gordon said the release did not mean the case into Grace Road Church was closed, and those who were detained could be arrested again.

RNZ Pacific understands investigations are continuing.

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