CHIBA (Kyodo) The guru of a "self-enlightenment" group blamed for the death of a member whose mummified body was found in a Narita hotel last year pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of murder.
Speaking in his first hearing before the Chiba District Court, Koji Takahashi, founder of Life Space, pleaded not guilty to murdering Shinichi Kobayashi, 66, of Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture.
According to prosecutors, Takahashi and his accomplices took Kobayashi from a hospital in Hyogo Prefecture, where he was receiving treatment for a cerebral hemorrhage, to the Narita hotel even though they knew Kobayashi might die without medical treatment.
After taking Kobayashi to a room at the hotel on July 2 last year, Takahashi patted the victim in his self-styled act of healing. Kobayashi died the following morning, the prosecutors said.
Members of Life Space, following the orders of Takahashi, left Kobayashi's body on the bed and kept records of its decomposition for four months -- until hotel workers alerted police and the corpse was found in November.
Before and after his arrest, Takahashi insisted Kobayashi "was not dead yet" and only died because police removed his body from the hotel.
Kobayashi's 31-year-old son, Kenji, also a member of Life Space, has also been indicted for his role in the death of his father.
"I flatly deny all the charges," Takahashi told the court. After the prosecution statement, his lawyers said their client's action "does not constitute murder."
CHIBA - The self-styled guru of the mummy-making cult Life Space denied murdering his ill follower last year during the opening day of his trial Tuesday at a Chiba court. Prosecutors accuse Koji Takahashi, 61, of killing Shinichi Kobayashi, who was recovering from a stroke in July last year, by denying him accesses to proper treatment and administering faith healing instead, despite knowing that Kobayashi might die as a result.
At the Chiba District Court, Takahashi denied any intention to kill Kobayashi. His lawyers argued that the death was a result of natural causes.
On July 2, 1999, Takahashi allegedly made the victim's son, who is also a follower of the cult, to transfer Kobayashi from a Hyogo hospital where he was treated, to a Narita hotel room.
Kobayashi died at the room about 24 hours later. His mummified body was found by police officers in November that year.
Takahashi and his followers stunned the public by insisting that Kobayashi's mummy was still alive.
CHIBA, Japan, July 4 (Kyodo) - The leader of the Life Space religious group pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murdering a 66-year-old man whose mummified body was found last November in a hotel in Narita, Chiba Prefecture.
Koji Takahashi, 61, denied responsibility for the death of Shinichi Kobayashi, a former company employee, at the first hearing of his trial at the Chiba District Court.
Takahashi is accused of conspiring with Kenji Kobayashi, 31, the eldest son of the dead man, to forcibly take Kobayashi to the hotel July 2 last year from a hospital where he was undergoing treatment for a stroke, knowing Kobayashi could die if removed from the hospital.
Kenji Kobayashi has been indicted for failing to protect his father.
Takahashi and his followers administered what they called the ''Shakty Pat'' therapy to Kobayashi, which consisted of pounding his head, according to the indictment. They later abandoned him without seeking medical treatment by a doctor, the indictment says.
The following day, Kobayashi died of suffocation, with his trachea blocked by sputum. His mummified body was found Nov. 11.
Takahashi had insisted that Kobayashi was still alive and would recover in six months, and claimed he died only when police conducted an autopsy.
Life Space, which organized self-enlightenment seminars, was founded by Takahashi in 1983 in Suita, Osaka Prefecture.
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