Trial of religious sect members under way in Russian Far East

BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union - Political/December 5, 2001

In summer 2000 the suspects planned to stage several terrorist acts in Japan aimed at freeing the organization's leader, Shoko Asahara, a spokesman for the Federal Security Service (FSS) department in the Territory told Interfax. The suspects collected a large number of weapons, munitions and home-made explosive devices.

On 1 July 2000 the FSS arrested three members of the sect. On 13 July 2001 one more follower was arrested, who was later determined unfit by psychiatric experts. A fifth member of the sect signed a pledge not to leave the region.

The suspects were charged with terrorism, illegal possession of arms and smuggling, Judge Aleksandr Perfilyev said.

On Wednesday suspect Dmitriy Sigachev pleaded guilty to the preparation of terrorist attacks on Japanese territory.

If found guilty the suspects could be imprisoned for 5-20 years.

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