June 10, 1995 in Nation/World

Cabinet Will Try To Smash Death Cult Japanese Court Will Be Asked To Strip Its Religious Status

Associated Press
 

The government decided Friday to seek the dissolution of the doomsday cult whose guru is charged with murder in the nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subways.

The cult has also been implicated in a string of other crimes, including the nerve gas deaths of seven people last summer in a mountain village and, according to a report Friday, the near fatal shooting of Japan’s top police official 10 days after the March 20 subway attack.

Followers of the Aum Shinri Kyo cult have indicated for the first time that the cult was behind the shooting of the head of the National Police Agency chief, the conservative Sankei Shimbun newspaper said Friday.

Takaji Kunimatsu was severely wounded in the brazen daylight attack outside his condominium but is recovering in a hospital.

Sankei Shimbun said Friday a cult member in police custody told investigators that a cult leader had directed the shooting. One witness description of a suspiciouslooking man at the scene matches that cult leader’s appearance, the newspaper said without naming the leader.

The shooting is one of many crimes the cult is suspected of committing besides the nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subways, which killed 12 people and sickened 5,500.

Cabinet ministers involved with the case decided Friday that a court should be asked to dissolve Aum Shinri Kyo by stripping it of its status as a religious organization.

Technically the request for dissolution must be filed by Tokyo’s governor because the cult is registered in Tokyo. But Gov. Yukio Aoshima has said he will cooperate with the government’s decision.

Like a company that goes bankrupt, a dissolved religious organization loses the right to its assets. Aum owns valuable land in Japan.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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