Joyu attacks extension of Aum surveillance

Kyodo (Japan), Jan. 24, 2003

TOKYO — The leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult on Thursday attacked the decision by the Public Security Examination Commission to extend the surveillance period on the sect for another three years.

“It is unlikely our group will be involved in indiscriminate mass murder such as the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995, since our former chief, Shoko Asahara, does not wield absolute power over us,” said Fumihiro Joyu, a former senior Aum official who now heads the cult, renamed Aleph in January 2000.

His comments came after the commission delivered the decision to the cult and the Public Security Investigation Agency earlier in the day. The decision will be effective after it is published in the government gazette next week.

The commission said that cult members still submit to Asahara and noted that Joyu has continued to make statements supportive of Asahara and has tried to justify the 1995 subway attack and other Aum crimes.

Joyu told a press conference that Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, does still have some religious influence on the cult but he rejected the allegation that he has tried to justify Aum’s crimes.

He said the cult will file a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court to seek the annulment of the decision.

Asahara, 47, has been on trial since April 1996 for his role in the March 20, 1995 subway attack that left 12 people dead and thousands injured, as well as other crimes. He has denied the charges.

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