Ex-AUM followers indicted over fatal religious training of woman

Kyodo News/November 12, 2004

Public prosecutors on Thursday indicted three former members of the AUM Shinrikyo group on charges of fatal assault of a woman through religious training, the prosecutors said.

Yuko Kitazawa, the 40-year-old leader of an AUM splinter group called Keroyon, and two other Keroyon members were indicted over the death of a 36-year-old group member on Sept. 10 after the suspects allegedly beat the victim with bamboo swords for eight hours at a Tokyo apartment to remove her bad karma, they said.

Kitazawa told investigators she ordered other members to beat the victim 100,000 times with bamboo swords, investigation sources said.

The prosecutors, meanwhile, sent the case of a 16-year-old girl, arrested on suspicion of involvement in the assault, to the Tokyo Family Court, which will decide whether to seek a criminal or juvenile trial or take other measures for her.

AUM renamed itself Aleph in January 2000 to distance itself from its criminal image, but it remains under surveillance by the Justice Ministry's Public Security Intelligence Agency.

Senior AUM cadres have been convicted for a series of crimes, including the 1995 sarin attack in the Tokyo subway.

Keroyon follows the teaching of AUM founder Shoko Asahara although the group is engaged in separate activities from AUM, according to the agency.

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