Appeal period ends on Aum ruling

The Japan Times/February 15, 2002

A 12-year prison sentence handed down Jan. 31 by the Tokyo High Court to Yoshinobu Aoyama, a former lawyer for the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult, for attempted murder and other charges became final Thursday, when the appeal period expired.

Aoyama, 41, decided not to appeal the ruling, sources said, after losing his appeal to the high court.

In rejecting his appeal, the high court said Aoyama acted with criminal intent in 1994, when he helped put deadly sarin gas in the car of Taro Takimoto, 45, a lawyer who was helping Aum members wanting to leave the cult.

The Tokyo District Court found Aoyama guilty of conspiring with Aum founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and others to murder Takimoto by putting the gas in his car on May 9, 1994, in a Kofu District Court parking lot in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Aoyama's actions were "abominable" and "outrageous," the high court said, considering the fact he reacted to a legal challenge by murdering an adversary's lawyer.

A number of Aum members and former members, including Asahara, have been convicted or are still on trial for the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, which left 12 people dead and thousands injured.

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