Gavel now silent but Aum case not over: victims


Survivors of Aum Shinrikyo’s criminal mayhem and the next of kin of its victims said Monday that the case is not closed even though the Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively ended 16 years of investigations and trials.

By rejecting the appeal of condemned cult killer Seichi Endo, the top court effectively finalized his sentence. Endo was convicted of making the sarin used in both the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing and the deadly 1994 attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Shizue Takahashi, 64, who lost her husband Kazumasa, 50, a senior official at Kasumigaseki subway station, in the 1995 sarin attack, expressed her scorn for the cult after hearing the top court’s decision Monday.

“I still don’t know who has told the truth” during the Aum trials, she said.

Fusae Kobayashi, 69, who lost her son, Yutaka, 23, in the 1994 sarin attack in Matsumoto, and who was also present at the press conference, said the defendants just tried to save their own necks and none truly owned up to any wrongdoing.

The Tokyo subway attack claimed 13 lives and left more than 6,000 wounded, while the one in Matsumoto targeting an apartment complex where judges involved in anti-Aum litigation were residing killed eight and injured hundreds.

Death sentences have been handed down to 13 Aum members, but none has yet gone to the gallows.

People who lost children in the Matsumoto attack said the truth remains elusive despite the years of trials, and urged that people not forget the crime.

A woman in her 40s who was injured by the Tokyo gassing still goes to a hospital for psychiatric treatment.

She voiced her anger at the cult for her continued woes. Meanwhile, a male victim in his 50s called on the government to provide more health support for the victims.

Hiroshi Araki, a spokesman for Aleph, which is what Aum renamed itself in 2000, said there are still areas that have yet to come to light because the cult’s founder, Shoko Asahara, divulged virtually nothing during testimony and three other Aum members remain at large.

Fumihiro Joyu, leader of an Aleph splinter group called Hikari no Wa (Circle of Rainbow Light), issued a statement repeating the group’s apologies to those victimized and pledged to continue paying compensation for the cult’s crimes.

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to hang in February 2004 and his sentence is final.

Takeshi Tsuchimoto, former prosecutor at the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, said Asahara’s silence keeps a shroud over much of the cult’s fiendish deeds.