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"Son gets suspended term for father's death in cult hands"

(Kyodo News Service, Sept. 28, 2001)

CHIBA - The Chiba District Court on Friday sentenced a former cult follower to two and a half years in prison, suspended for three years, for actions resulting in his father's death.
The court found Kenji Kobayashi, a 32-year-old former member of a cult called Life Space, guilty of not allowing his father, Shinichi Kobayashi, 66, to receive proper medical treatment, resulting in his death from suffocation.
According to the ruling, Kobayashi conspired with cult leader Koji Takahashi, 63, and took his father out of a hospital in western Japan where he was being treated for cerebral bleeding, moving him to a hotel in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, on July 2, 1999, the ruling said.
The elder Kobayashi died of suffocation the following day after being subjected to an attempted religious cure in which Takahashi touched his body, the ruling said.
Kobayashi's mummified body was found in a room of the hotel on Nov. 11, 1999. Takahashi was arrested later along with seven followers, including Kobayashi's son.
On Thursday, the prosecutors demanded 15 years in prison for Takahashi, who is charged with the murder of Kobayashi, a former company employee in Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture.
The prosecutors made the demand in their final argument in the trial of Takahashi at the same district court.

"Cult leader labelled murderer not mystical mummifier"

("Mainichi Shimbun," September 27, 2001)

CHIBA -- Koji Takahashi, the guru of mummy-making cult Life Space, should be put away for 15 years in jail for murdering one of his followers, prosecutors at a Chiba court demanded Thursday.
"Takahashi's actions were selfish and cold-blooded. His motive for the murder was cruel and he has shown no remorse," a prosecutor said during his closing argument at the Chiba District Court.
The Life Space guru is accused of killing follower Shinichi Kobayashi, who was seriously ill, by snatching him from a Hyogo Prefecture hospital and letting him die at a hotel in Narita in 1999. Takahashi's defense team is arguing that Kobayashi died of natural causes and that there is nothing in this case which constitutes murder.
When the mummified body of Kobayashi was discovered by police officers, Takahashi and Kobayashi's son, Kenji, who is also member of the cult, insisted that he was still alive.
Former accountant Takahashi attracted followers by claiming that he possesses miraculous healing powers and accused police of killing Kobayashi by barring him from treating his mummified corpse.
In a separate trial, prosecutors have demanded that the son be jailed for four years for dragging Kobayashi out of hospital and then failing to provide necessary care to his ailing father, causing his death.
The verdict on Kenji will be handed down at the district court on Friday.

"Prosecutors seek 15 years in jail for cultist accused of murder"

(Kyodo News Service, September 27, 2001)

CHIBA - Prosecutors on Thursday demanded 15 years in prison for a cult leader accused of murdering a 66-year-old man whose mummified body was found in 1999.
The prosecutors made the demand in a final argument in the trial of Koji Takahashi, 63, leader of the self-enlightenment seminar Life Space, at the Chiba District Court.
They said Takahashi, 63, killed Shinichi Kobayashi, a former company employee in Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture, to secure his position as cult leader, keep his followers under control and obtain money.
''It was an extremely antisocial, inhumane and cruel act and caused a serious uneasiness in society. And (Takahashi) still fails to show any sign of remorse,'' a prosecutor said in the argument.
The prosecutors also said Takahashi should be punished severely in order to prevent a recurrence by similar cult groups led by ''absolute leaders'' such as Takahashi.
According to the prosecutors, Takahashi ordered Kobayashi's son Kenji, 32, and other followers to take Kobayashi from a hospital in Hyogo Prefecture where he had been treated for cerebral bleeding, and moved to a hotel in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, on July 2, 1999.
At the hotel Takahashi failed to allow Kobayashi to receive any necessary medical treatment and tapped Kobayashi's body as part of a ''religious cure.'' As a result, Kobayashi suffocated to death three days later.
In previous hearings Takahashi pleaded not guilty to the charges saying that he did not order that the victim be carried from the hospital to the hotel.
Takahashi also argued that he was not responsible for Kobayashi's death because the victim was in the terminal stage of alcoholism and was incurable.
Kobayashi's mummified body was found in a room of the hotel Nov. 11. The case gained a high profile when Takahashi made nonsensical remarks at a number of press conferences before he was arrested along with seven followers including Kobayashi's son Feb. 22 last year.

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