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Asahara worshipper dies under bizarre circumstances

Mainichi Daily News, Japan
Sep. 23, 2004 • Thursday September 23, 2004

A Tokyo woman who maintained her fervent belief in Shoko Asahara even after it was revealed the guru had brought about the lethal 1995 Tokyo subway gassing has died under mysterious circumstances, police and public safety officials said Thursday.

The 43-year-old woman whose name is being withheld was an instrumental figure in the AUM Shinrikyo splinter group that continued to worship Asahara even after the guru’s arrest and subsequent conviction.

Asahara is currently on Death Row for ordered the deadly March 20 1995 gas attack that killed 12 and made thousands more ill.

Police said a follower of the AUM splinter group called for an ambulance early on the morning of Sept. 11, saying that her friend had “gone cold.”

Paramedics rushed to the scene and found the Asahara follower’s body. She appeared to have been dead for some hours.

Public safety officials ordered an autopsy to try and determine the cause and timing of the woman’s death, but the probe failed to come up with any conclusive reason. There were no signs of external injury on the woman’s body.

The woman had been a member of the Keroyon Club. Public Safety Commission officers said the club was formed by several former members of AUM Shinrikyo who opposed cult leaders’ intentions to install Asahara’s daughter as the head of their movement following the gassing mastermind’s arrest in May 1995.

Keroyon Club members, of whom there were several dozen, continued to profess a belief in the teachings of Asahara, carrying out the same types of rituals the guru had presided over when he headed the cult.

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