18/10/2011 14:21:16 Daily Pioneer – Kochi
The Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Kochi on Tuesday ordered deportation of US evangelist William Arthur Lee for holding religious preaching sessions in the name of musical programmes in Kerala in violation of visa norms. The police said Lee could be deported on Wednesday itself.
The court also sentenced him to three days’ imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs 10,000. Lee, who had gone into hiding on the night of October 12 during a police inspection at the venue of his religious programme in Kochi, was arrested on Friday night from a five-star hotel. The court had on Saturday remanded him in custody till Tuesday.
After the court issued the verdict, Lee, who had entered India on September 21 on a tourist visa that was valid till March 20, 2012, was handed over to the Sub-Inspector of the Palarivattom police station in Kochi. Police sources said the US pastor could be deported on Wednesday itself once the District Collector completed the formalities.
Lee was arrested over 48 hours after he went missing from the venue of Musical Splash 2011, a religious propagation programme organized as a musical event at Jawaharlal International Stadium in Kaloor, Kochi on October 12. He had gone into hiding when the police reached the venue to ask him to leave the country immediately.
Lee, who had gone missing along with evangelist-musician Ron Kenoly and a woman associate, was blacklisted after the October 12 incident. The police had issued lookout notices for his detention to all airports in the country. They had also been searching for the leaders of Faith Leaders Church of God, who had brought them to Kerala and had organized the event.
The police had tried to detain Lee and to deport him back to the US on the basis of Intelligence reports that he and his associates, who had come to India on tourist visas, were indulging in evangelical activities in various parts of the State.
Intelligence officials had learned that William Lee had held musical conventions for religious propagation at Kunnamkulam in Thrissur district on October 7, 8 and 9. Like other Faith Leaders programmes, Musical Splash 2011 in Kochi was planned as a three-day event to popularize their school of Christianity through “Gospel Music Pageantry”.