Cult leader gets death penalty for killing six believers

Associated Foreign Press/May 10, 2002

A Japanese court today sentenced a 54-year-old exorcist and cult leader to death by hanging for the murder of six followers in northern Japan.

The Fukushima District Court handed down the sentence to Sachiko Eto, and also sentenced two senior members of her cult, Yutaka Nemoto, 27, and Eto's 30-year-old daughter, Hiroko, to life in prison.

According to the ruling, Eto and her two accomplices killed the six victims in 1995 by beating them with sticks and kicking them, claiming the violence was part of an exorcism.

The accused later hid the bodies at Eto's home in Sukagawa city, Fukushima prefecture, some 200 km north of Tokyo.

During her trial, Eto's lawyers argued she had diminished responsibility as she was suffering mental problems at the time of the crime.

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