Asahara ordered to pay 460 mil. yen over sarin attack

Kyodo News/July 25, 2001

Tokyo, Kyodo - The Tokyo District Court ordered AUM Shinrikyo religious cult founder Shoko Asahara on Wednesday to pay about 460 million yen in compensation to eight family members of four victims of a June 1994 sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.

The plaintiffs filed the 545 million yen damages suit in August 1995, about one year after the attack, but proceedings were suspended for nearly four years because the court decided in December 1996 to closely follow proceedings of criminal lawsuits filed against Asahara, 46.

In February this year, the court decided not to put Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, on the stand in the civil case because it felt the cult leader would not testify voluntarily in court.

Asahara had submitted papers denying the production of sarin and ordering the sarin gas attack.

In March 1998, the plaintiffs withdrew their suit against the cult as the two sides reached a settlement, with the cult agreeing to pay about 510 million yen in compensation.

In June 1996, the plaintiffs also sued nine other cult members allegedly involved in the gas attack, and cult members have been ordered to pay a total of 100 million yen in damages to the plaintiffs.

Seven people were killed and 144 others injured in the sarin gas attack on the central Japan city at around 10:40 p.m. on June 27, 1994.

Asahara has been indicted on 13 criminal charges, including those related to a 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system which left 12 people dead and injured thousands.

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