The Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Recovery (JSCPR) demanded Monday that the state refrain from executing 12 former members of doomsday cult group Aum Shinrikyo, not including the group's guru leader, amid growing speculation that recent transfers of seven of them could indicate their hanging was imminent.

Taro Takimoto, a JSCPR board member who himself was attacked by Aum Shinrikyo members in 1994, said that the 12 include people who killed his lawyer friend Tsutsumi Sakamoto and also those who tried to kill him. "But by being involved in the executive counseling process for the cult members, as well as being a witness for the prosecution, I came to believe strongly that they should not be executed... Asahara was the brain and the others were merely the limbs," said Takimoto, who has represented other victims of the Aum Shinrikyo crimes, during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.

The JSCPR, a Kanagawa-based organization that researches preventive measures against cult groups and helps victims and former members return to regular lives, sent a petition to the Justice Ministry last Thursday requesting that the lives of the 12 be spared and their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.