Supreme Court rejects AUM cult member’s death sentence appeal

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by a former high-ranking member of the AUM-Shinrikyo cult convicted of murder and other crimes, meaning the death sentence handed down to him in earlier rulings will become fixed.

Sentenced to death over crimes including AUM’s deadly gassing of Tokyo’s subway system and the murder of anti-AUM lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto and his family was Tomomitsu Niimi, 45.

Niimi is the 10th member of AUM Shinrikyo to have a death sentence fixed.

Among the others is 54-year-old AUM founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto. Cases are continuing for three more AUM members, all of whom received death sentence rulings in their district and high court trials.

– Source / Full Story: Supreme Court rejects AUM member’s death sentence appeal, Mainichi Daily News, Jan. 19, 2010 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

The Tokyo High Court had previously ruled that Niimi, in collaboration with AUM founder Shoko Asahara, 54, (whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto) killed Tsutsumi Sakamoto, 33, an anti-AUM lawyer in Yokohama, and his family in 1989.

Niimi was also convicted for his involvement in sarin gas attacks in a residential area of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1994, which killed 7 people and on the Tokyo subway system in 1995, in which 12 people lost their lives.

AUM Shinrikyo renamed itself Aleph in January 2000 and in 2007 a senior AUM disciple and his followers left Aleph to launch a splinter group called Hikari no Wa (Circle of Rainbow Light).

– Source / Full Story: Japan’s Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence for Ex-Cult Member , Xinhua, via, Jan. 19, 2010 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Fifteen years after the attack, Niimi still worships Asahara, 54, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, making prayers in his cell.

Asahara too is on death row for the gas attack and other crimes.

The bearded guru was revered as a god by his sect, which preached a blend of Buddhist and Hindu dogma mixed with apocalyptic visions.

He was obsessed with Nazi-invented sarin gas and paranoid his enemies would attack him with it.

Japan usually carries out the death penalty only in cases of multiple homicide.

– Source / Full Story: Doomsday cult member faces execution, AFP via the Australian Broadcasting Organization, Jan. 19, 2010 — Summarized by Religion News Blog
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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday January 19, 2010.
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