$49m bill for doom cultists

AFP, Hong Kong Standard, March 10, 2000

TOKYO: A Japanese court yesterday ordered seven cult disciples to pay US$6.3 million (HK$49.14 million) over a poison gas attack on Tokyo's subway that killed 12 people and injured thousands.

Tokyo District Court said the members of Aum Supreme Truth, which has since changed its name to Aleph, must pay a total 670 million yen in compensation, a court spokesman said.

The sect members, including high-ranking disciple Yoshihiro Inoue, 30, were ordered to pay 41 plaintiffs, including relatives of those killed in the attack on March 20, 1995.

Judge Seiichiro Nishioka said the Sarin gas attack was masterminded by sect leader Shoko Asahara and carried out by "a number of followers", according to a report by Jiji Press.

"Their motive was immature and selfish and deserves to be punished strongly. The pain and anger of the victims and the relatives of the deceased are tremendously deep," the judge said.

The six disciples involved in the ruling apart from Inoue were Shigerou Sugimoto, Masato Yokoyama, Kiyotaka Tonozaki, Seiichi Endo, Tomomasa Nakagawa and Katsuya Takahashi.

It was the second ruling in a civil case filed against Asahara and 14 other disciples.

In the first ruling, the court ordered the leader, 44, who is still on trial for 17 criminal charges including murder, and of his five followers to pay a total of 890 million yen to the same plaintiffs. - Agence France-Presse

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