Cult leader: 'I killed 12' 12, 2004

Jakarta -- An Indonesian cult leader has admitted to killing 12 of his followers by making them drink a potion laced with arsenic and cyanide to find "divine inspiration," news reports said on Friday.

Iskandar, a spiritual guru who promised his disciples wealth, was arrested after the deaths of seven people last month, including a married couple, suspected to have taken part in cult rituals on the Java island area of Tegal.

Tegal detective chief Syaeful Wahyudi said Iskandar confessed to handing out poisonous potion to the seven and five others for the past nine years during meditation to help them reach enlightenment, the Indo Pos daily reported.

Wahyudi said: "After finding the right place, they were asked to meditate and were given the potion to drink to obtain divine inspirations."

He did not say why Iskandar had deliberately killed his followers.

The state news agency Antara said an autopsy result showed the victims died of arsenic and cyanide poisoning.

Although Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, superstitious beliefs steeped in ancient mystic cultures continue to play a part in everyday life, particularly on Java.

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