Cult victims’ relatives call for death of leader

Daily Telegraph (England), Feb. 28, 2003
By Colin Joyce in Tokyo

Relatives of the Aum Supreme Truth cult’s victims confronted its leader in court yesterday and demanded his execution.

Shoko Asahara, 48, is charged with ordering followers to murder enemies of the cult and members of the public over a period of six years.

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He was arrested after cult members released the deadly nerve gas sarin on to underground trains in Tokyo in 1995, killing 12 people and injuring thousands.

At Tokyo District Court a man aged 43 whose sister has been in hospital since the attack said: “She clung to life though her heart had stopped beating when she was rescued. Her body is still stiff and bedridden. Rehabilitation for her means to be able to sit in a wheelchair. As Asahara was the leader, I think he deserves the death penalty.”

The man asked for his name to be withheld for fear of revenge attacks. He told the court: “When I told my sister I would stand in the court, she said, ‘Aum idiots. Death penalty’.”

A statement from a woman whose father was caught in the underground attack, read out in court, said: “My father was bedridden for a year and three months and died without opening his eyes or saying a word. Asahara should disappear from this world in the way my father did.”

Asahara, who is blind, showed no emotion, sitting with his arms crossed and his eyes closed.

Throughout the seven-year trial he has behaved erratically and has not spoken in court for five years.

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