TOKYO, March 3 (Kyodo) — The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday upheld a ruling on a former senior AUM Shinrikyo cult member that sentenced him to 10 years in prison for crimes including the murder of a fellow believer, in which AUM founder Shoko Asahara was also found guilty.
The ruling on Shinichi Koshikawa wraps up high court judgments on crimes by AUM members who were given fixed prison terms at the lower court level.
Koshikawa, 39, became a live-in follower of AUM around 1988 and was one of its senior officials in charge of commerce. On March 25, 2002, the Tokyo District Court found him guilty of murdering Kotaro Ochida, of threatening a fellow cultist who attempted to leave the sect and of interfering in the duties of a public official.
In handing down the latest ruling, Presiding Judge Koshi Murakami said Koshikawa had a big role in the murder of Ochida, 29, and conspired with Asahara and other senior cultists to carry out the guru’s proposal to kill him, adding Koshikawa ”actively participated in the murder.”
Last Friday, the Tokyo District Court found Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, guilty of ordering his followers to commit a string of crimes, including the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway, which resulted in the deaths of 27 people.
Koshikawa denied all three charges against him, but Murakami said some testimony by people standing trial in AUM crimes implicating him was trustworthy.
According to the ruling, Koshikawa conspired with others and strangled Ochida when he entered an AUM facility in Kamikuishiki village, Yamanashi Prefecture, to rescue an ill female member on Jan. 30, 1994.
The ruling also says Koshikawa threatened a cult member in Tokushima Prefecture in January 1995 because the member wanted to leave AUM. He is also guilty of interfering with the duties of a public official by shoving a police officer who was questioning him in Tokyo.