Aum senior member gets death penalty for subway attack

Kyodo, September 30, 1999

TOKYO, Sept. 30, 1999 (Kyodo) -- The Tokyo District Court on Thursday sentenced senior AUM Shinrikyo cult member Masato Yokoyama to death for murder and attempted murder in the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack.

Yokoyama, 35, is one of five current and former AUM members to have been charged with carrying out the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995, which left 12 people dead and thousands injured.

The sentence was in line with prosecutors' demands.

His defense lawyers had said, however, that Yokoyama did not intend to kill anyone. No one died on the Marunouchi Line, one of five subway lines attacked and the one on which Yokoyama was accused of releasing sarin, they argued.

The prosecutors said the reason there were no fatalities on the line was simply that an affected part of it runs above ground.

Yokoyama should assume the same level of criminal responsibility as others involved in the attack, the prosecutors had said. It makes no sense, they argued, that legal responsibilities are judged according to the number of victims on a particular subway line.

Yokoyama was also accused of playing a leading role in AUM's alleged production of illegal automatic rifles.

Shoko Asahara, founder and leader of AUM, is being tried on 17 criminal charges, including masterminding the subway gas attack.

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