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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK
Death sentence for Japan gas maker
Rescue workers
Twelve people died in the Tokyo gas attack
A former senior member of the Japanese doomsday cult which carried out a nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway seven years ago has been sentenced to death.

Seiicho Endo, 42, helped produce the Sarin nerve agent used in the attack, in which 12 people died.

Shoko Asahara remains the cult's guiding figure
Aum guru Shoko Asahara is still on trial
Endo, who had studied biology at Kyoto university, was also involved in a similar attack in the city of Matsumoto in 1994 in which seven people died.

Several of the Aum Shinrikyo cult have now been sentenced to death for their part in the killings, but some of the sentences are on appeal, and none have been carried out.

Prosecutors argued that Endo deserved the death penalty because he knew that his research would be used to injure innocent people, Associated Press news agency reported.

He was convicted of murder and attempted murder in five cases from May 1994 to April 1995.

Aum guru Shoko Asahara is still being tried for allegedly masterminding the attack on the Tokyo subway.

Aum Shinrikyo
Renamed Aleph and claims it is now benign
Has about 1,000 lay followers and 650 followers in cult communes
Predicted an apocalypse that only cult members would survive
Thought to raise most funds from computer software business it runs

His trial began in 1996 and correspondents say it has come to symbolise the slow pace of Japan's judicial system.

Aum Shinrikyo was also developing biological weapons at the time of the Sarin gas attack and vowed to overthrow the government and set off a chain of events which would lead to Armageddon.

The group has now regrouped under a new name - Aleph - and claims to have renounced violence.

But it remains under surveillance by Japan's Public Security Agency which says it is still a threat.

See also:

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20 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
06 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
26 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
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