Two weapons experts for a doomsday cult were sentenced to death yesterday for their role in the 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo underground in which 12 people died.
Passing sentence at the Tokyo District Court, Judge Manabu Yamazaki said that Toru Toyoda, 32, and Kenichi Hirose, 36, were guilty of an "unprecedented mass murder that ignored human dignity". With yesterday's ruling, four of the five Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) cult members accused of releasing sarin gas on trains have been sentenced to hang.
A fifth defendant was jailed for life because he gave himself up and showed repentance. The two men admitted the charges but argued that they were acting on the orders of Shoko Asahara, the cult leader on trial for masterminding the attack.
The judge said that even if their minds were controlled by Asahara their responsibility for the "indiscriminate crime" was so huge that they merited the death penalty.
Toyoda and Hirose were also convicted of manufacturing machineguns in 1994 and 1995 as part of the cult's efforts to build an arsenal of automatic rifles.
A third man, Shigeo Sugimoto, 41, was given a life sentence yesterday for driving a getaway car for the gas squad and for his involvement in the deaths of two cult followers.
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