The Public Security Intelligence Agency inspected 25 Aum Shinrikyo facilities nationwide Saturday morning after the death sentence for its founder, Shoko Asahara, was finalized the day before.

The inspections to check for dangerous moves among cult members involved 250 officials, the most ever, and were based on a law to place groups judged dangerous under government surveillance.

The raids were the third of their kind targeting the cult, after those in February 2004 — just before the Tokyo District Court sentenced Asahara, 51, to death — and this April, after the Tokyo High Court dismissed an appeal against the sentence.

Aum Shinrikyo has renamed itself Aleph.

According to the security agency, the cult had 1,650 followers in Japan as of the end of August. Of the nearly 450 followers arrested in a series of Aum-related cases, about 30 percent returned to the group, it said.

On Friday, the Supreme Court rejected a special appeal from Asahara’s lawyers, finalizing his death sentence in connection with masterminding the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system and other crimes.

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is the second Aum leader whose death sentence has been finalized. The outcomes of the trials of 13 others are pending.

Legal experts say that considering Asahara may seek a retrial and the trials of his accomplices continue, his detention before his execution is expected to be prolonged.

See related links:
Former member recounts Aum’s control

Timeline of Asahara’s court saga

Asahara’s execution finalized

Sarin gas victims greet execution news with relief, sadness

Daughters also unable to reach Asahara

For more Aum trial-related links >>

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