Former Aum fugitive gets 5-year sentence for role in bomb attack

The Asahi Shimbun, Japan/June 30, 2014

Former Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Naoko Kikuchi on June 30 was sentenced to five years in prison for her role in the doomsday cult’s parcel bomb attack at the Tokyo metropolitan government building in 1995.

The Tokyo District Court found Kikuchi, 42, guilty of attempted murder for serving as a courier for explosive materials. Prosecutors demanded a seven-year prison term in their closing argument on June 9.

According to the indictment, Kikuchi delivered the materials from the cult’s facility in Yamanashi Prefecture to its hideout in Tokyo five times to aid in the production of the parcel bomb.

The bomb was sent to Tokyo Governor Yukio Aoshima by Yoshihiro Inoue, a 44-year-old former senior cultist who has been sentenced to death for his role in the March 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 13 people and sickened 6,000.

The bomb exploded in a room for the governor’s aides and seriously injured a metropolitan government official in May 1995.

In the first hearing of her trial, Kikuchi admitted to transporting the chemicals but pleaded not guilty, saying she was unaware they would be used to build a bomb. Prosecutors, however, argued that Kikuchi had knowledge in chemistry and knew the materials would be used to produce explosives.

After the sarin attack in 1995, Kikuchi was placed on the nationwide wanted list. She moved from city to city across Japan before finally being arrested in Kanagawa Prefecture in June 2012.

In demanding a seven-year prison sentence, prosecutors said the defendant “instilled fear and anxiety among the public” by being on the run for 17 years.

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