Cult leader Sachiko Eto hanged for six murders in Japan


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The Independent Online

Japan executed two people today, including a 65-year old woman cult leader convicted of six murders that took place during supposed exorcisms.

The Justice Ministry said 65-year-old Sachiko Eto and 39-year-old Yukinori Matsuda were executed by hanging. Matsuda was convicted of killing two people during a robbery in 2003.

Eto turned to faith healing after she and her husband joined a cult, according to Japanese media reports. She and two accomplices, including her daughter, were convicted of beating their victims to drive out "demons" and then hiding their bodies at her home.

During her trial, Eto's lawyers argued that she had diminished responsibility as she was suffering mental problems at the time of the crimes. She pleaded not guilty, but a Japanese court upheld her sentence, ruling that her crimes were "excessively grave".

Eto's daughter and another cult member were sentenced to life in prison for the 1995 murders.

Japan is one of the few industrialised countries that have capital punishment. The lack of transparency in the system has been criticised by human rights groups, but capital punishment is generally supported by the public, according to opinion polls.

There were no executions in Japan in 2011 but seven have been carried out this year. The Justice Ministry says there are 131 convicts on Japan's Death Row.