TOKYO, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) — Two former members of the cult AUM Shinrikyo, Toru Toyoda (41) and Kenichi Hirose (45), had their death sentences upheld by the Supreme Court on Friday for their involvement in the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and hospitalized thousands.
The Supreme Court rejected appeals made by Toyoda and Hirose against their sentences delivered by the Tokyo High Court in 2004 and Friday’s decision is expected to be final, meaning the total number of AUM Shinrikyo members sentenced to death has now risen to eight.
Presiding judge Justice Yukio Takeuchi said Friday that the sarin attack on the subway system in 1995 constituted “organized and premeditated acts of indiscriminate mass murder” and that the crime was “extremely cruel and inhumane.” The death penalty is inevitable for the two men even though they committed the crime under instructions from higher cult members, the justice concluded.
The ruling drew the curtains on a series of trials on the perpetrators of the subway attack, including Masato Yokoyama, 46, Yasuo Hayashi, 51, both death row inmates, and Ikuo Hayashi, 62, who was given a life term.
In total, there are eight former AUM Shinrikyo members whose death sentences have been confirmed over the subway attack and a string of other incidents linked to the doomsday cult.
According to the ruling, Toyota and Hirose used umbrellas to stab holes in plastic bags containing the nerve agent sarin and left them inside trains on the Hibiya and Marunouchi Lines, killing one passenger in each.
Five other defendants linked to the cult — Yoshihiro Inoue, 39, Masami Tsuchiya, 44, Tomomitsu Niimi, 45, Tomomasa Nakagawa, 47, and Seiichi Endo. 49 — are awaiting a top court decision after appealing their death sentences by lower courts over a spate of cult-related incidents. Niimi and Inoue face their appeal hearings later this month.
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