Key Events For Japan's Aum Supreme Truth Doomsday Cult


Yahoo! Asia News, July 17, 2000

TOKYO, July 17 (AFP) - A Japanese court Monday sentenced two Aum Supreme Truth cult disciples to the gallows for releasing the deadly Sarin gas in Tokyo's subways in 1995.

Here is a chronology of major events since the cult was founded by Shoko Asahara, now aged 45:

February 1984: Shoko Asahara, who claims to have been spiritually awakened in the Himalayas, founds a small religious sect in Tokyo.

July 1987: Asahara renames the cult Aum Supreme Truth with headquarters at Fujinomiya in central Japan and in Tokyo.

November 1989: An anti-Aum lawyer, his wife and infant son disappear from their apartment in Yokohama west of Tokyo.

February 1990: Asahara and followers unsuccessfully run for office in parliamentary elections.

June 1994: The lethal Nazi-invented Sarin gas is released in the central Japanese city of Matsumoto at night, killing seven people.

March 1995: Cult members release Sarin gas in Tokyo subways during the morning rush hour, killing 12 people and injuring thousands of others in an attack that stuns the world.

April 1995: The cult's "science and technology minister" Hideo Murai dies after being stabbed several times in the stomach by a 29-year-old man before television cameras in front of the Tokyo headquarters.

May 1995: Police arrest Asahara in a secret room at the cult's sprawling commune in Kamikuishiki village at the foot of Mount Fuji.

April 1996: Asahara goes on trial on 17 criminal charges.

January 1997: The government's Public Security Commission decides not to outlaw the sect, saying there is insufficient reason to believe it is still a threat with only about 1,000 full and part-time members.

October 1998: A Japanese court sentences a founding member of Aum, Kazuaki Okazaki, to death by hanging for the murder of four people including the anti-sect lawyer.

September 1999: Tokyo District Court sentences senior cult member Masato Yokoyama to hang for spreading Sarin gas in Tokyo's subways in 1995, the first death penalty handed out for the outrage.

December 1999: Parliament passes legislation allowing police to conduct raids and demand information and financial data from the sect without the need for a warrant.

January 2000: The sect changes its name to "Aleph" as part of a facelift. It promises to reform the group by appointing former translator Tatsuko Muraoka as new cult representative.

January 2000: The Public Security Commission approves a crackdown on the cult amid fears it could strike again.

June 29, 2000: Tokyo District Court sentences Aum Supreme Truth cult's Yasuo Hayashi to death for unleashing Sarin gas in the 1995 Tokyo subway attack.

July 17, 2000: The last two disciples to face sentencing for actually releasing the gas, 32-year-old Toru Toyoda and 36-year-old Kenichi Hirose, are sent to the gallows.



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