• Kyodo

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— The Miyazaki District Court on Monday ordered two former Aum Shinrikyo members and the cult’s founder, Shoko Asahara, to pay a combined 15.8 million yen to a 69-year-old man the group abducted and kept under house arrest for five months in 1994.

The court said Asahara and former senior members Yoshihiro Inoue and Ikuo Hayashi should compensate the man and his family, who had sought 57 million yen in damages for emotional distress caused by the abduction.

Presiding Judge Hiroko Ando said that although Asahara did not take part in the kidnapping, he was involved in its planning.

They “inflicted psychological damage by drugging him semiconscious, abducting him and putting him under house arrest for about five months,” Ando said in her ruling.

The judge said the fourth defendant, Yoshinobu Aoyama, a former senior member and legal adviser to Aum, is not liable for the damages because his involvement in the abduction could not be proven.

The abducted man, who used to own a Japanese-style inn in Kobayashi, Miyazaki Prefecture, said he is “very satisfied” that the court recognized the acts committed by the defendants as unlawful.

“We are relieved that, with this ruling, my family’s battle against the cult has come to an end,” the man said.

However, a representative for the plaintiff said, “We’re not satisfied that Aoyama’s involvement was not recognized by the court. I will consult with the former inn owner to decide whether or not to appeal the ruling.”

According to the ruling, the man was abducted from his inn by Aum members — including his own daughter — in March 1994.

The group members, targeting the man’s assets, drove him to the Aum facility in the village of Kamikuishiki, Yamanashi Prefecture, and detained him there for about five months, the ruling said.

Although his family once tried to rescue him from the Aum facility, they were turned away by the cult’s followers.

The plaintiffs filed the suit in August 1995. In November 1997, the parties nearly reached an out-of-court settlement in which the cult would pay compensation of 11 million yen, but the plaintiffs insisted that the former senior members themselves also pay compensation.

Aum now calls itself Aleph.