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Tokyo prosecutors said Tuesday they plan to drop four of the 17 charges against Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara in a bid to speed up his trial.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office reportedly plans to notify the Tokyo District Court of its intentions next week.

Hearings on the four counts, which include the illegal manufacture of amphetamines, mescaline, thiopental and LSD, have yet to start.

Prosecutors decided to withdraw the four indictments to speed up proceedings as hearings on them would not significantly affect Asahara’s final sentencing. No one was killed in the cases, the sources added.

The cancellations would shorten the guru’s trial, which started in April 1996, by several months.

The court has so far held 169 hearings in connection with Asahara’s role in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, the murder of anti-Aum lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto and his family, and the 1994 sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.

The court in July began hearings on the cult’s production of automatic rifles, the 12th charge against Asahara.

Various Aum followers have been found guilty of crimes or are still on trial. They have been convicted of offenses including the subway gassing that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.

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