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Senior Aum Shinrikyo figure Tomomitsu Niimi filed an appeal Thursday with the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the Tokyo High Court’s decision the previous day to uphold the death penalty for his role in several of the cult’s murders, including two sarin attacks, his lawyers said.

The lawyers claim hanging is too harsh a punishment for Niimi, 42, reckoning that as Aum founder Shoko Asahara’s most loyal disciple, he had no option but to follow the guru’s orders.

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