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|Saturday, April 29, 2000, updated at 10:48(GMT+8)|
Cult to Pay Followers for False CuresA Japanese cult that cheated followers by getting them to pay for "cures" after claiming cancer and other ailments could be diagnosed by examining their feet was ordered Friday to pay compensation.
The Ho-no-Hana Sampogyo cult and its leader Teruyoshi Fukunaga, 55, were ordered to pay 227.2 million yen (US$2.14 million) to 27 followers, said a court official in Fukuoka, western Japan.
Believers were told to buy religious goods and have expensive training to ensure they were cured, the court heard.
More than 1,000 other followers have sued the cult-whose name means Flower of Law and Three Law Practice-for around 5 billion yen in damages.
Fukunaga and his disciples, whose headquarters are at the foot of Mount Fuji, have no licence to practice medicine but say they can diagnose people's health and predict their future by examining their feet.
Kyodo news agency said the group would appeal after its argument that such actions were religious was rejected.
The ruling comes amid persistent public anxiety in Japan over cults. Last November, police found the mummified body of a 66-year-old follower of the Life Space cult in a hotel.
His family claimed he was still alive and being treated for a brain hemorrhage by getting pats on the head from guru Koji Takahashi, who was later arrested and charged with murder.
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