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Seven years sought for Aum’s Kikuchi over parcel bombing

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Prosecutors on Monday asked the Tokyo District Court to sentence former Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Naoko Kikuchi to seven years in prison for her role in the 1995 parcel bomb attack on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, saying she deserved “the heaviest punishment possible.”

Kikuchi, who acted as a courier for the explosives, was “indispensable” to the attack, they said.

Kikuchi, 42, is accused of complicity in the attack, which maimed a secretary of then-Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima. The court’s verdict and sentence are to be handed down simultaneously on June 30 after the lay judges have finished deliberating. Seven years is the maximum she faces if judged guilty.

The bomb was intended to distract police at a time when they were hunting for Aum guru Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto. The guru went into hiding after the deadly gas attack on the Tokyo subway three months earlier, which left 13 people dead and thousands injured.

Kikuchi is pleading not guilty, saying she had no idea the chemicals she repeatedly brought her Aum superiors would be used to build a bomb.

“The bombing was a very dangerous act of criminality that could have claimed an untold number of casualties, either via death or severe injury,” prosecutors said during the trial. They branded the attack malicious and representative of the doomsday cult’s “extreme selfishness.”

Kikuchi faithfully followed her superiors’ orders, becoming an indispensable participant in the conspiracy, they said.

Kikuchi, citing a lack of chemical expertise, argues that she did not know what kind of chemicals she was carrying, let alone their potentially deadly nature.

The prosecutors slammed her argument as “illogical and untrustworthy,” They said she routinely engaged in chemical experiments with the cult, suggesting she had acquired technical foreknowledge of things to come.

“There is no doubt that the defendant knew or at least suspected that the chemicals she transported would be used as a part of the cult’s terrorism scheme to murder somebody,” they said.

Since Kikuchi only stands accused of being an accomplice rather than a bomber, she merits only half the criminal liability, or seven years, the prosecutors said. But her decision to run should also be taken into account, they said.

“By being on the run for 17 years, she also caused society to fear something horrible might happen again,” they said.