Court upholds death for Japan subway terrorist

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Mainichi Daily News (Japan), May 19, 2003

A top AUM Shinrikyo member who played a leading role in the cult‘s 1995 poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people had his appeal against the death sentence rejected Monday.

“It was an inhumane crime of an unprecedented scale … the defendant must bear a grave responsibility.” Presiding Judge Kunio Harada said at the Tokyo High Court that upheld the death penalty handed to Masato Yokoyama.

Yokoyama’s lawyers argued that capital punishment was too heavy by pointing to the fact that no one died in the carriage where he sprayed the deadly sarin gas. The defense team also claimed that 48-year-old Yokoyama was under the mind control of AUM guru Shoko Asahara.

However, Harada rejected these arguments. “Although it turned out that no one died as a result of the defendant’s actions, the death sentence is unavoidable,” the judge said. “We cannot conclude that the defendant is not showing remorse, but the level of his apparent remorse shown is not enough to downgrade his punishment.”

Yokoyama has remained silent in the dock since the middle of his trial at the Tokyo District Court. He did not utter a word during Monday’s proceeding.

Court documents showed that Yokoyama was one of the AUM members who released sarin gas on the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995, killing 12 people and injuring more than 5,000 people.

He was also found guilty of illegally manufacturing automatic rifles from 1994 to 1995.

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This post was last updated: Nov. 17, 2014