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Friday, Sep. 28, 2012

Two hanged, including a female cult leader

Staff writer

Two inmates were executed Thursday, including a female cult leader convicted of murdering six of her followers.

News photo
Justice Minister Makoto Taki

It was the second round of hangings in two months and the third set since Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda took office in September 2011.

The latest hangings brought the total under his administration to seven. In the previous round on Aug. 3, two convicted murderers were hanged.

One of the prisoners put to death Thursday was 65-year-old Sachiko Eto, who was hanged in Sendai. Records indicate she was the fourth woman executed since 1950.

Justice Minister Makoto Taki, asked at a news conference why he signed the two execution orders, said that "the crimes (they committed) were extremely malignant and brutal."

Eto was convicted of murdering six people and injuring one with kicks and blows delivered with fists and drumsticks between 1994 and 1995 under the pretext of exorcizing them of evil spirits. According to local media reports, Eto was a faith healer and lived in Fukushima Prefecture with her victims.

The other person put to death Thursday was Yukinori Matsuda, 39, who was executed in Fukuoka. He was convicted of murdering a couple he robbed in 2003 in Kumamoto Prefecture. He stabbed the husband and wife, both 54 years old, multiple times and stole from them more than ¥80,000 in cash as well as watches and other items worth ¥240,000.

There were no executions in 2011 after two inmates were hanged in 2010. Under the previous Liberal Democratic Party government, seven prisoners were hanged in 2009, 15 in 2008, nine in 2007 and four in 2006.

Thursday's executions was criticized by human rights activists.

"We strongly oppose the third round of executions this year after none last year because it is a signal that the government and the Justice Ministry will stick to and continue" executions, Amnesty International Japan said.

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The Japan Times

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