Aum Shinri-kyo and Related Controversies
TOKYO - A 12-year prison sentence handed down Jan 31 by the Tokyo High Court to Yoshinobu Aoyama, a former lawyer for the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult, for attempted murder and other charges became final Thursday with the expiration of the appeal period.
Aoyama, 41, decided not to appeal the ruling, sources said, after losing his appeal to the high court. In rejecting his appeal, the high court said Aoyama acted with criminal intent in 1994 when he helped put deadly sarin gas in the car of Taro Takimoto, 45, a lawyer who was helping Aum members wanting to leave the cult.
AUM Shinrikyo "Health Minister" Seiichi Endo, who developed the deadly sarin gas used in the cult's terrorist attacks, should be sentenced to death, according to prosecutors at a Tokyo court on Tuesday.
"He played a crucial part in the indiscriminate mass-murder by being the central figure in the sarin gas development team," a prosecutor said in demanding that the Tokyo District Court send Endo to the gallows.
Endo, a 41-year-old veterinarian, is accused of developing the poison gas and releasing it in the residential area of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and killing seven people in June 1994. He also manufactured the gas used to kill 12 and injure thousands on the Tokyo subway system in March the following year.
Prosecutors said Endo was motivated by greed.
"He was in charge of developing biological and chemical weapons for the cult ... He did so in the hope of becoming a member of the privileged class within the group," a prosecutor told the court. "He should not be allowed to shift the blame to others."
Endo has admitted to the allegations but his lawyers have insisted that their client believed he was participating in "training to accomplish missions without paying attention to the consequences." They also argued that Endo was under mind control by AUM guru Shoko Asahara and thus cannot fully shoulder the responsibility for his actions.
The court is expected to hand down the judgment in autumn this year.
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