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Suspected leader of sex abuse chat room scandal handed to prosecution

Seoul, Mar 25 (efe-epa).- The suspected leader of an online chat room that distributed images of sexual abuse to paying subscribers has been handed over to South Korean prosecutors.

Cho Ju-bin, 24, who was named following a public outcry, could face multiple charges including violation of the act on the protection of children from sex offences.

At least 74 women, 16 of them minors, are known to have been victims to the chat rooms, which were known as the Nth room and were hosted on apps such as Telegram.

Cho is suspected of coercing his victims into sending nude images, which he would then use for blackmail, forcing the women to send footage of violent acts that included sexual abuse and self-harm.

Police believe that acts of rape were also shared on the channels, which exchanged hands via cryptocurrency payments.

An estimated 260,000 users – which could include individuals with multiple profiles – are thought to have been subscribed to the channels.

Police believe some of the channel members paid up to $1,200 for access to the material.

Appearing outside Jongno Police Station in Seoul, Cho asked for a harsh sentencing and told the dozens of gathered reporters: “Thank you for putting a brake on the life of a devil that could not be stopped.”

He wore a neck brace and a bandage on his head.

Police later handed the chief suspect over to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office.

Another 126 people have been arrested in connection with the Nth room scandal, which provoked a huge public backlash in South Korea, with petitions calling on authorities to name the chief suspect and all those who accessed the chats garnering millions of signatures.

It’s not the first such case in South Korea, where so-called molka cases – hidden camera crimes – are a principal target of the country’s MeToo movement.

President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered a full investigation into the Nth room scandal. EFE-EPA

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