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The Tokyo District Court on Friday ordered commentator Atsuyuki Sassa and Bungei Shunju, a major publishing house, to pay 350,000 yen in damages to Hiroshi Sakaguchi, a former Japanese Red Army activist now on death row, for defamation.

In the libel suit filed by the death-row convict, presiding Judge Tomonori Sagara decided that a series of Bungei Shunju magazine articles about the 1972 Asama Villa case involving Japanese Red Army members contained expressions indicating that a bombing incident in 1971 was perpetrated by Sakaguchi and some of his colleagues, and that it lowered his social reputation.

Sakaguchi was convicted for his involvement in the case, but not in the bombing. The three-part series was written by Sassa and carried in the February, March and April issues of monthly magazine Bungei Shunju.

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