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Japan marks gas attack 9yrs on

AFP, France
Mar. 20, 2004 • Saturday March 20, 2004

Japan marked the ninth anniversary today of the Tokyo underground Sarin gas attack masterminded by doomsday cult Aum Supreme Truth guru Shoko Asahara, sentenced to death last month.

Railway workers and passengers stood at 8am local time (10am AEDT) – the time of the gas attack on five subway lines in 1995 – to observe a moment of silence for the 12 people killed and more than 5000 injured.

The ninth anniversary followed the Tokyo District Court’s decision last month to sentence 49-year-old Asahara to death for his role in 13 crimes including ordering the 1995 attack.

Michio Kumagai, station service chief at one of the five railway lines, said the death sentence against Asahra, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, did not mark an end to the episode.

“I do not think the case is closed with the death sentence as there are some Aum members (involved in the attack) who are still at large,” Kumagai was quoted by Jiji Press as saying.

Combined with the subway gassing, Asahara’s crimes claimed 27 lives.

The Aum sect, now renamed Aleph, issued a statement, saying they would do their utmost to compensate the victims.

Asahara has been in custody since being arrested two months after the 1995 attack at the cult’s headquarters in the foothills of Mount Fuji, where the Aum had built a chemical plant capable of producing enough sarin to kill millions.

Immediately after the ruling, the guru’s defence lawyers lodged an appeal, meaning that the case is likely to drag on for many years.

Japan often keeps condemned prisoners on death row for 10 years or more before executing them.

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