AP, Oct. 10, 2002
TOKYO- A former leader of the doomsday cult that carried out a nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 12 people, was sentenced to death Friday, a court official said.
Seiichi Endo, 42, of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, was sentenced to die for helping produce the deadly sarin gas used in the March 1995 attack, which also sickened thousands of people, Tokyo District Court official Emi Shimoyama said.
Endo also helped make the sarin used in a June 1994 attack on a quiet residential area in the central Japanese city of Matsumoto, killing seven people.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty because Endo allegedly knew his handiwork would be used against innocent people, possibly killing them.
Endo joined the cult in 1987 when he was a graduate student of virology at Kyoto University, one of the most prestigious schools in Japan. Media have reported the cult was developing chemical, biological and conventional weapons in an apparent attempt to attack cities and overthrow the government.
Aum guru Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is still being tried for allegedly masterminding the subway gas attack and other killings. At least nine other cult members have received death sentences.
The cult was declared bankrupt in March 1996 but later regrouped under a new name, Aleph, and is believed to have about 1,000 members.
It is under surveillance by Japan’s Public Safety Agency, which warned that the group remained a threat.