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Australia – Doomsday Cult Raids Prompt Calls for Mind Control Laws

Alex Constantine - May 28, 2010

Related: Police raid religious group, Explosives, firearms seized in raids on religious group, Young girls 'promised to Agape cult members', Search for leaders of doomsday cult

Andrew Dowdell | Adelaide Now | May 29, 2010

The property owned by the Agape Ministries at Oakden. Pic Chris Mangan Source: AdelaideNow

SOUTH Australian police say they know where the leader of the Agape doomsday cult is hiding but are not ready to launch an arrest operation.  Agape leader Rocco Leo, is wanted over serious weapons offences following last week's raids on properties owned by the doomsday cult.

Detective Inspector Jim Jeffery has told ABC Radio that police have a good idea where Leo, 54, and his accomplices are hiding.

"We do know where they are ... we believe that they are offshore we have got to have all the grounds that we want to have and everything put together before we take any action in relation to those people," Det Supt Jeffery said.

Det-Supt Jeffery said police had not spoken to Leo and that public safety had been the main priority for detectives so far in the investigation. He said police had no reason to believe that Leo or other wanted members would become violent.

"In our view no, not at this point in time (but it is) always concerning that there are firearms out there unaccounted for," he said. "We are very satisfied at this point in time with the extensiveness of the searches we've conducted ... we are confident that wherever the firearms are now they're not going to be put to any aggressive use at this point in time."

Leo has reportedly encouraged members of the cult to sell property in preparation for a move to a tropical island in Vanuatu.

Det Supt Jeffery said police were still considering what charges Leo could face when arrested.

"What has to be understood here is that there is still a lot of forensic aspects to take place still working through many lines of inquiries to work out exactly what parties are playing what role in this whole situation," he said.

Meanwhile, independent Senator Nick Xenophon has called for the introduction of mind control laws to protect families from "psychological manipulation" by cults and sects. Mr Xenophon has called for the implementation of laws similar to those in France, where "mental manipulation" is a crime that carries a maximum five-year prison term.

The SA Senator says last week's seizure of high-powered ammunition and firearms from the Adelaide Agape doomsday cult were proof that State and Federal Governments needed to take action against such groups.

"These groups are becoming more ruthless in their methods, and our laws need to keep up," Mr Xenophon said. "Right now our laws simply don't protect adults and children caught up in sects from intense psychological manipulation. Many are losing their freedoms and their fortunes."

Relatives of Agape followers say cult members have been selling off possessions including their homes in recent months in preparation for a move to a South Pacific Island, where they will avoid the worldwide catastrophe which they believe will happen in 2012.

Mr Xenophon said such cults hid their illegal activities behind a "freedom of religion" argument and argued that mainstream religions would have nothing to fear from the introduction of mind control laws.

"Groups like the Church of Scientology loudly protested these laws in France, perhaps because they had so much to lose from them," he said.

"As for the weak claim the laws are undemocratic, I would respectfully say that I think the French know a thing or two about democracy."

Mr Xenophon said he would flag his suggestions with SA Attorney-General John Rau and his Federal counterpart Robert McClelland this week.


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