Japanese AUM cult member appeals death sentence

Masami Tsuchiya, a former senior member of the AUM Shinrikyo cult, appealed Tuesday [3 February] a ruling that sentenced him to death for the 1995 poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway and six other cases.

Tsuchiya, 39, filed the appeal at the Tokyo High Court over the judgment Friday by the Tokyo District Court convicting him of playing a key role in the murder of 13 people in crimes committed by the sect, including the Tokyo subway sarin gas attack in March 1995 that left 12 dead and thousands injured.

He was also charged in six other cases including three incidents where VX nerve gas was used to kill or harm people.

Tsuchiya is the 11th person to receive the death penalty in connection with crimes committed by AUM, founded by Shoko Asahara in the 1980s.

A ruling for Asahara, for whom prosecutors have also demanded the death penalty, is scheduled for 27 February.

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