Author Topic: Aum Shinrikyo - Guru Nears Gallows  (Read 2576 times)

Devious Viper
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Aum Shinrikyo - Guru Nears Gallows
« on: June 07, 2006, 06:36:16 pm »
The Tokyo High Court has rejected a second appeal against the death sentence of the doomsday cult guru convicted over the deadly 1995 nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway. The decision brought Aum Supreme Truth founder Shoko Asahara closer to the gallows, more than 10 years after his sect stunned the nation with crimes based on his apocalyptic visions. His death sentence would become final if the nation's highest court rejects the further appeal.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Asahara (51) to death in February 2004 for the subway attack, the murder of an anti-Aum lawyer and his family, and other crimes that claimed a total of 27 lives. Asahara's lawyers missed an August 2005 deadline to submit their arguments against the sentence. They explained in March that they could not talk to the guru as he only mumbled nonsense. But the Tokyo High Court at that time rejected the defence's belated document, presenting a doctor's analysis that Asahara was faking mental illness.

Japan has been sentencing more inmates to death but carrying out fewer executions. Only one person was hanged last year and none so far this year.

Asahara, a nearly blind former acupuncturist whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, preached a mix of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and predicted an apocalyptic war with the establishment.

He allegedly ordered his supporters to release Nazi-invented sarin gas on crowded trains at rush hour on March 20 1995 to pre-empt police raids on the cult. Twelve people died and thousands were injured.

He was arrested at his commune near Mount Fuji two months later.

Zak Roy Yoballa

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Re: Aum Shinrikyo - Guru Nears Gallows
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2006, 09:25:44 am »
I watched a show a while ago on him and they were discussing the effects of his chanting mantras.  The story went that the inflections were done in such a manner that it made his followers much more likely to be brainwashed than the normal population.  At the time I thought that was insightful but now think otherwise. 

Has anyone else seen this show or the report?

ZRY
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Devious Viper
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Re: Aum Shinrikyo - Guru Nears Gallows
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2006, 11:06:48 am »
I've seen a few documentaries about them - several mentioned this. I think I will have to hunt down some info about it...

Meanwhile, in the condemned cell...


Haunted by Tokyo cult
by Christopher Hogg BBC News, Tokyo

Shoko Asahara, the man convicted of masterminding the gas attack on the Tokyo underground in 1995 may soon be executed. But the group he set up, Aum Shinrikyo, still exists and 11 years on, many people in the capital continue to live in fear.

Imagine what it is like to live next door to an organisation that a few years ago launched a chemical attack on your own city. The residents of a quiet street in downtown Tokyo where what is left of the former Aum Shinrikyo cult lives, know just how frightening it is.

As you approach the cult headquarters you see long white banners reading "Get out of here Aum".

Before you can go inside, a policeman checks your bags.

The neighbourhood watch lady wants to know what you are up to. It is all rather sinister.

And yet when you meet the cult members they are quietly spoken, friendly and rather disarming.

These days the cult calls itself Aleph. It has renounced the violent teachings of its former leader Shoko Asahara. Now about 100 members occupy a large apartment block, living together, worshipping together and trying to keep a low profile. The cult agreed to talk to me though, because its guru Asahara could be hanged soon. There is some concern in Japan that that might make him a martyr.

No-one knows how his former supporters might react and Aleph wanted to make clear to the rest of the world that they do not pose a threat.

Araki Hiroshi, Aleph's spokesman - who is stick thin and has the air of a monk about him - gave long and considered answers to all of my questions. Like his companion, Matsuo Nobuyuki, he was a member of Aum before the attacks. But both men claim they had no idea what was going to happen. "I joined in 1990 thinking it was a religious organisation," Matsuo told me. "Five years later I found out I'd joined a terrorist organisation."

The security services have raided their premises more than 100 times in the last six years. But the men insisted they and other members of the cult do not pose any threat to anyone. "Why those crimes were committed under the aegis of religious teaching and what our leader was thinking we have no idea," Araki told me.

They were at pains to stress that the new organisation was really different to that led by Asahara.

I do not know if I believe them.

Although there were no portraits of Asahara in the room where the interview took place there was a large stone that they worship, a stone they told me that had been "energised" by the guru.

They say they believe in the "Shoko Asahara who lives in the religious world and not the Shoko Asahara who committed those crimes".

That is a distinction the rest of Japan finds quite difficult to understand and, as a result, quite unsettling.

Just how nervous the Japanese are about the cult and anything to do with it was confirmed for me a couple of nights later when I met two of Shoko Asahara's daughters at the office of his lawyer.

Neither of the two women was prepared to reveal her name. One was wearing a wig to partially hide her identity. The other looks strikingly like her father. She says that wherever she goes, as soon as people realise who she is, she is hounded. "The public want us to be unhappy, to suffer," she told me. "When Aum first went bankrupt we left the headquarters. But the police, the public security officers and the media followed us everywhere. We were under surveillance all the time. Then there were demonstrations. I had to leave school. Every time people found out who we were, the protesters began to kick us out."

The two women are now trying to save their father from the gallows.

They believe he is mentally ill.

After years of solitary confinement he does not recognise them, they say.

"He's incontinent. He mumbles incoherently and has no idea what's going on."

They want the legal process halted. Like Araki and Matsuo from Aleph, their strongest argument is that Shoko Asahara should be spared and his mental illness treated in an effort to persuade him to give his side of the story. They too say they want to hear why he ordered the attacks. But the courts disagree. They have decided that the cult leader is able to understand what is going on but chooses not to.

His appeals process is coming to an end and he could be executed at any time.

But that will not be the end of the story.

At Aleph headquarters they told me they found their faith through meeting him. That is where they started. He is the foundation of their religion.

Shoko Asahara has no official position in Aleph itself, they say.

But every member holds his image in their minds.

And that is why their neighbours continue to worry.

(Originally broadcast on Saturday, 17 June, 2006 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4.)

Dark Lord M
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Re: Aum Shinrikyo - Guru Nears Gallows
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2006, 11:07:23 am »
I saw one on the History Channel. He's crazy...

Devious Viper
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Japan cult boss loses last appeal
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2006, 04:21:46 am »
Japan's Supreme Court has rejected a final appeal by Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Shoko Asahara, paving the way for his execution. Asahara was convicted in 2004 of masterminding a 1995 attack to release sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo subway during the morning rush-hour.

Twelve people died and hundreds more were injured in the attack. Lawyers had appealed on the grounds that Asahara was mentally ill, asking for the case to be suspended. The cult leader, a former acupuncturist, was sentenced to death in February 2004 after a trial lasting eight years.

He was also found guilty of other charges including plotting a 1994 gas attack in the central Japanese city of Matsumoto that killed seven people.

'Unfit'

During his trial, he mumbled incoherently and made unexplained gestures. His lawyers say he has become mentally ill as a result of his detention and have tried to have legal proceedings against him suspended. But in March a Tokyo court rejected an appeal, filed on mental health grounds, after Asahara's lawyers missed an application deadline.

This most recent action, a special motion, had challenged the March decision.

"Effective today, the court dismisses the special appeal of this case," a Supreme Court spokeswoman said.

Local media said that the final appeal avenue against Asahara's sentence, execution by hanging, was now closed.

Renounced

Altogether, 12 cult members have been sentenced to death, but none of the sentences have yet been carried out.

Last month, a court upheld the death sentence for the cult's alleged second in command, a chemist who oversaw the development of the nerve gas.

Before the attacks, Aum Shinrikyo had thousands of members, many of them educated and wealthy, who embraced Asahara's violent apocalyptic teachings.

The cult changed its name to Aleph in 2000 and has renounced violence, but is still heavily monitored by police.