Cult pair convicted for beating death

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.

In Context

Members of the group claimed that she had died of an illness, but police concluded that she had died as part of the group’s training after Fujibayashi reportedly told them, “We hit her with bamboos swords to drive the karma out of her.” “Karma removal” was one of the practices the splinter group had inherited from AUM.
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.

Aum practices

The splinter group is called Keroyon.

Regarding Aum Shinrikyo’s practices, Robert Jay Lifton wrote, “There was considerable violence even in the training procedures to which disciples could be subjected: protracted immersion in extremely hot or cold water, hanging by one’s feet for hours at a time, or solitary confinement for days in a tiny cell-like room that had no facilities and could become unbearably hot. Though the distinction between training and punishment often blurred, these procedures were justified by the need of the disciple to overcome the bad karma he brought to Aum or, in the phrase commonly used in the cult, to “drop karma.”
– quoted in Ideological Totalism

See also: Life inside AUM

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.

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AFP, via, France
Apr. 26, 2005
Correspondents in Tokyo

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday April 26, 2005.
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