A Japanese court today jailed a breakaway member of a notorious doomsday cult but freed her colleague for killing a woman by beating her with bamboo swords in a cult ritual.The two followers of the Aum Supreme Truth sect, which attacked the Tokyo subway in 1995, were convicted of battering the woman to death as part of initiation training meant to beat out bad karma.
– AUM splinter group members nabbed for beating woman to death
The Tokyo District Court sentenced Yoko Takahashi, 43, to six years in prison but suspended a three-year sentence on Masataka Fujibayashi, 36, because he surrendered and cooperated with police.
Prosecutors said the cult members took mind-altering drugs before clobbering the woman in a Tokyo apartment in September using swords meant for the Japanese martial art Kendo.
“Strong condemnation is unavoidable for their use of legal drugs and then battering with bamboo swords in the name of training,” presiding judge Yoshimitsu Goda said.
The Aum cult gained notoriety in 1995 when followers spread the Nazi-invented nerve gas sarin in the Tokyo subway, killing 12 people and injuring thousands.
– quoted in Ideological Totalism
After the attack, the cult distanced itself from founder Shoko Asahara, a partially blind former acupuncturist who preached of a coming apocalypse mixing Hindu and Buddhist tenants.
But investigators believe hardliners have formed a breakaway cult that continues rituals such as beatings to remove karma and long baths in scalding water.
Asahara was sentenced to death last year for his role in the subway attack and other Aum crimes. His daughters say his health has seriously deteriorated in detention and that he mumbles nonsense and wears nappies.