Japan Cult Leader Higashi Sentenced
TOKYO (AP) _ The leader of a Japanese cult who claimed he could cure sick children through prayer was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison for causing the deaths of a premature baby and a 6-year-old boy by depriving them of medical care.
Junichiro Higashi and his accountant Akemi Togashi were jailed for negligence, said a spokesman for the Miyazaki District Court in southern Japan.
The Kaeda Juku cultists had taken custody of the boys in the late 1990s, promising the parents their prayers had the power to heal. Without medical care, the 6-year-old _ who had kidney problems _ and the frail newborn soon died, the court spokesman said.
The bodies were discovered by police in 1999, Kyodo News Agency reported.
``The crime was extremely vicious because they watched the children suffer with their own eyes but did not provide medical care,″ said Judge Heinai Komatsu in handing down his sentence.