Aum cult member appeals prison sentence to Japan’s supreme court

A former senior Aum Shinrikyo cult member filed an appeal Thursday with the Supreme Court against a ruling sentencing him to 10 years in prison for the murder of a fellow believer and other crimes.

Early this month, the Tokyo High Court upheld a ruling that found Shinichi Koshikawa, 39, guilty of strangling Kotaro Ochida as he entered an Aum facility in the village of Kamikuishiki, Yamanashi Prefecture, to try to rescue an ill female cultist on 30 January, 1994.

Koshikawa pleaded not guilty to the murder and other charges. The high court ruled he conspired with Aum founder Shoko Asahara and other senior cultists to carry out the guru’s plan to kill Ochida, 29, and had a major role in the murder.

Late last month, the Tokyo District Court found the 49-year-old Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, guilty of ordering his followers to commit a string of crimes including the Ochida murder as well as the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway. In all, the crimes left 27 people dead.

Aum now calls itself Aleph.

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