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Order for Tokyo to pay damages to Aleph upheld

Kyodo

The Tokyo High Court upheld on Wednesday a lower court ruling ordering the metropolitan government to pay damages to religious group Aleph, previously known as Aum Shinrikyo, for releasing an investigative report that attributed the 1995 attempted murder of the national police chief to Aum.

Like the Tokyo District Court, the high court ordered the metropolitan government to pay ¥1 million in damages but did not order it to issue an apology to Aleph.

Presiding Judge Shintaro Kato said identifying the cult as the culprit simply on the assumption of guilt was “unacceptable” and an “abuse of police power.”

In May 2011, Aleph filed a libel and damages suit against the metropolitan government and Katsuhiko Ikeda, then head of the Metropolitan Police Department, seeking ¥50 million in damages.

In a rare announcement, the MPD released the investigative report on March 30, 2010, shortly after the statute of limitations expired over the shooting of National Police Agency Commissioner General Takaji Kunimatsu in March 1995. No suspect was ever indicted for attacking Kunimatsu, who survived the attack, although a policeman in Aum had confessed to the attack.

It also posted an outline of the report on its website for about a month.

Aum carried out the sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995 and on a residential area in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in June 1994.