TOKYO, Jan. 28–(Kyodo) _ The Tokyo District Court on Friday found six people, including four former AUM Shinrikyo cult members, guilty of selling ointment in 2003 and 2004 as an atopic dermatitis remedy without authorization.
In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Satoru Hattori said the six took advantage of people suffering from atopy and “reaped huge profits.”
Hattori said the six planned and ran the sales systematically without learning from AUM’s past crimes. The six were charged with violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law.
Many senior AUM members, including founder Shoko Asahara, have been sentenced to prison or death for a series of crimes, including the fatal 1995 sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway.
In the ruling, former AUM member Michiko Okumura, 41, was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for four years. Prosecutors demanded a prison term of 16 months.
Three others AUM members — Naoko Mori, 41, Yukiko Komiya, 31, and Nobuhiro Hanyu, 30 — were given 14 months, suspended for four years. The prosecutors demanded 14 months for each of them.
Two people, who were not AUM members, were also given suspended terms.
The ruling said the six conspired with two others, who are still facing trial, to sell ointments imported from China as drugs for atopy between February 2003 and April last year without Japanese government authorization. Ointments worth about 23 million yen were sold to about 900 people, it said.
The two accomplices are Kiyoshi Nakano, 37, a used car dealer, and Takashi Inoue, 36, who headed the cult’s Tokyo training center.
AUM renamed itself Aleph in January 2000 apparently to distance itself from its criminal image, but it remains under surveillance by the Security Intelligence Agency.