Aum must pay 668 million yen in sarin redress

Japan Times, March 9, 2000

The Tokyo District Court on Thursday ordered former members of Aum Shinrikyo to pay 668 million yen to survivors of the March 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and next of kin of those killed in the attack. The 668 million yen suit was filed in three stages between October 1995 and October 1996 by 34 people injured in the attack and the families of seven of the 12 who were killed.

Presiding Judge Seiichiro Nishioka said Aum founder Shoko Asahara ordered cult members to release the nerve gas on morning rush hour trains on March 20, 1995, in a bid to prevent investigators from cracking down on the cult.

The plaintiffs' team sued seven Aum figures, including Yoshihiro Inoue and Seiichi Endo. The court has already ordered Asahara and five other members to compensate the victims because they refused to appear in court. The guru is standing trial on several counts, including mass murder in connection with two sarin attacks, and has yet to be convicted.

Aum Shinrikyo and the plaintiffs agreed to an out-of-court settlement in December 1997. The victims received a total of 250 million yen, or 22.59 percent of what the court acknowledged as the amount of damages, because the cult was declared bankrupt in March 1996 and deemed unable to pay a further amount.

After the ruling, cult spokesman Hiroshi Araki said Aum would make its utmost effort to honestly compensate the victims.

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