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Saturday, 29 January, 2000, 20:15 GMT
Japanese cult 'to compensate' victims

Victims in the Tokyo subway Thousands of people were injured in the gas attack


The Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo, says it is taking steps to compensate victims of its poison gas attack on the Tokyo underground system five years ago.

Twelve people were killed in the attack and thousands more injured.

Aum only recently acknowledged and apologised for the attack in which the deadly nerve gas sarin was released in underground stations.

A spokesman for the group said that the cult will pay 120m yen ($1.1m) a year as compensation to the victims.


Fumihiro Joyu Cult leader Fumihiro Joyu: "I bear a heavy responsibility"
Most of the victims have received only a portion of the damages set by the Japanese courts.

Not all the victims have come forward to seek compensation, partly because of fears they may lose their jobs if people find out they are sarin victims.

Among the victims of the subway gassing, only 1,136 people have so far claimed compensation.

Assets

The money is to come from cult assets, including money to be handed over to its bankruptcy administrators.

Aum also says it will start a personal computer company and transfer all proceeds into a fund especially for victims.

"I don't intend to deny that I bear a heavy responsibility," said Fumihiro Joyu, one of the cult's top leaders, appearing before reporters for the first time since his release from prison last month.

Police say it earns about 7bn yen ($66m) a year from its discount computer chain stores.


Shoko Asahara Shoko Asahara: Cult distancing itself from former leader
The cult is believed to operate other businesses and have revenue from followers' donations.

However, Mr Joyu continued to defend the teacher behind the Aum cult, Shoko Asahara.

"I approve of our exalted teacher Asahara's spiritual practices," he said.

The cult issued a statement earlier in January deposing jailed Shoko Asahara as leader, changing the sect name to Aleph and vowing reforms, including a pledge to obey the law.

Shoko Asahara, 44, is in jail facing 17 charges including orchestrating the Tokyo nerve gas attack.

Mr Joyu, who was never charged over the subway gassing, denied knowing about the attack in advance but said he had wanted to defend the cult too much and purposely avoided facing up to its guilt.

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See also:
26 Dec 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Doomsday cult revival
18 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Aum cult blames leader for gas attack
01 Oct 98 |  World
Sarin uncovered
22 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Aum kidnap boy rescued
23 Oct 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Doomsday cultist sentenced to death
25 Dec 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Japanese sect's nerve gas plant destroyed

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