Death penalty for Tokyo attack

Yoshihiro Inoue was the doomsday cult's top intelligence officer

BBC News/May 28, 2004

A former Japanese cult member has been sentenced to death over the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack after a life sentence imposed by a lower court was scrapped.

Yoshihiro Inoue, 34, escaped the death penalty four years ago on the grounds that he did not personally release the poisonous sarin nerve gas.

But a judge has now ruled that, as a co-ordinator of the attack, he was just as guilty as those who carried it out.

Twelve people died in the gas attack, carried out by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

Key role

The attack happened during morning rush hour when cult members on five underground trains punctured plastic bags filled with sarin.

Thousands of people were injured, and many of them still suffer from headaches, breathing troubles and dizziness.

Presiding judge Toshio Yamada said Inoue played an extremely important role as co-ordinator of the March 1995 attack.

"His responsibility is as serious as those who actually carried out the subway sarin attack," the judge said.

Inoue's lawyers have filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Inoue is the thirteenth Aum member to have received a death sentence, though none have been executed pending appeals.

Inoue was the cult's top intelligence officer and a close aide to Aum founder Shoko Asahara, who was sentenced in February to hang over the attack.

Aum is still operating, albeit under the new name of Aleph and with a supposedly benign new remit. However, the Japanese police still monitor it closely and believe it is still dangerous.

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