Fujitive cult leader Rocco Leo detained in luxury resort in Fiji

Fugitive doomsday cult leader Rocco Leo is being detained with his girlfriend at his coastal hideout in Fiji, Australia’s Sunday Mail reports:

The Fijian Government confirmed to the Sunday Mail the charismatic former Agape Ministries preacher was seeking a visa to live in Fiji as efforts to bring him back to Australia faltered.

Mr Leo fled Adelaide more than 12 months ago before police were able to question him over his financial affairs and a cache of weapons found on several properties belonging to Agape.

Criminal charges against him relating to 126 counts of fraud were withdrawn by police on Wednesday because of a lack of evidence.

However, District Court civil action relating to allegations he duped $1.62 million from two former followers and owed the Australian Tax Office $1.75 million are pending.

Fijian Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said an Immigration Department investigation was under way as Mr Leo, his girlfriend, Mari Antoinette Veneziano, and her brother, Joseph, had been arrested for overstaying their visas.

In an editorial published at the end of last month, The Advertiser said:

The decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Pallaras, QC, not to pursue fraud charges against fugitive cult leader Rocco Leo is bewildering.

It appears Mr Pallaras and senior South Australian police have become more focused on blaming each other rather than concentrating on the real issue – how to bring Leo to trial, regardless of the result.

While there may be legitimate arguments behind the decision not to charge Leo with alleged fraud, the discovery of thousands of rounds of ammunition and guns at properties linked to his Agape Ministries organisation remains frightening – particularly in light of the horrific massacre in Norway.

Meanwhile the Sunday Mail reports that Independent SA Senator Nick Xenophon, who has taken a marked interest in cult-related issues, renewed his call for an independent review of the case.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday August 8, 2011.
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