Japan Cult Offers Compensation to Gas Victims

Yahoo! News, May 11, 2000

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese doomsday cult which has admitted its members carried out a 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway said on Thursday it will pay $37.47 million compensation to victims of that and other incidents, Kyodo news agency reported.

The Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth) cult will pay part of the money within six months, Kyodo said. The subway attack killed 12 people and injured thousands.

It was unclear how the cult, which changed its name in January to Aleph -- the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet -- would finance the payout.

Its computer businesses -- a major source of income -- were hurt recently after it was discovered software they developed was being used by a number of high-profile organizations, including the police, navy and government agencies.

The government ordered its agencies to abandon the software. Other domestic media reports said a prestigious private university, local governments and Kyodo were among other organizations that bought software from the company.

Leaders of the cult admitted for the first time last December that sect members were responsible for the nerve gas attack.

Cult leader Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is on trial for murder, masterminding the 1995 attack and 16 other charges, including planning another nerve gas attack in 1994 in which seven people were killed and 144 injured.

In the past, Aum preached that the world was coming to an end and that it must arm itself to prepare for various calamities.

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