Japan Seeks Death for Cult Members


The Associated Press, December 7, 1999

TOKYO (AP) - Prosecutors sought the death penalty on Tuesday for two doomsday cult leaders accused of spraying nerve gas in a deadly attack on Tokyo's subways, an official said.

Toru Toyoda, 31, and Kenichi Hirose, 35, are on trial along with Aum Shinri Kyo guru Shoko Asahara and other cult members in the 1995 rush-hour assault on a subway station in Tokyo's government district.

The sarin attack killed 12 people and sickened thousands.

Prosecutors sought life imprisonment for the cult's driver in the attack, Shigeo Sugimoto, 40, said a spokesman for the Tokyo District Court who only gave only his surname, Kashima.

National broadcaster NHK reported that prosecutors said Toyoda and Hirose deserved death because they participated directly, while Sugimoto had a lesser role.

The first death verdict handed out in connection with the attack came in September, when Masato Yokoyama was sentenced to hang. Two other cult members involved in the gassing received life in prison.

Prosecutors say they have not decided whether to seek the death penalty for Asahara.

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