• Kyodo

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A woman who claims she is an exorcist is not guilty by reason of insanity in the beating deaths of six people in the early 1990s, her lawyer argued Thursday before the Sendai High Court.

In the opening session of the appeal trial for Sachiko Eto, 55, and Mitsuo Sekine, 53, the lawyer said Eto was insane at the time of the slayings and “did not intend to kill.”

He asked the high court to acquit or apply charges of inflicting injuries resulting in death instead of murder. in overturning a lower court ruling.

In May 2002, the Fukushima District Court sentenced Eto to death, ruling she had killed four people and wounded two others who later died.

Eto and two other friends beat seven people, all followers of Eto and who lived with her, between late 1994 and mid-1995 in what Eto claimed were rituals to eliminate evil spirits.

The friends are Sekine, who was sentenced by the district court to 18 years in prison, and Yutaka Nemoto, 29, who was sentenced to life imprisonment. Sekine’s lawyer claimed in court Thursday that his client had no intention to kill the followers.

In response to a request from Eto’s lawyer, the district court had authorized a mental competency examination of the three. The test found all three could be held responsible for their actions.

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