- A former leader of Japan's doomsday cult was sentenced
to death Thursday, the first such verdict handed out in connection with
the Tokyo subway gassing that killed 12 people. Masato Yokoyama, 35, was
sentenced at the Tokyo District Court for sprinkling nerve gas at rush
hour in one of Tokyo's busiest subway stations, court officials said.
- Thousands were sickened in the 1995 attack, in which
five Aum Shinri Kyo members sprayed sarin into crowded subway cars. Nobody
died in the train car assigned to Yokoyama.
- Two other cult members who directly participated in the
gassing have been given life in prison.
- Cult leader Shoko Asahara is on trial for allegedly masterminding
the subway attack and other murders. He also faces the death penalty.
- On Wednesday, Aum promised to tone down its activities
and stop recruiting members. It also said it would change its name.
- But cult leaders disappointed many Japanese by refusing
to acknowledge involvement in the sarin attack.
- "We cannot say whether we have anything to do with
the attack or not," Aum spokesman Hiroshi Araki said.
- The cult's leaders said that the group will temporarily
stop using the name Aum, as of Oct. 1, because it had created too much
friction with the public and had hurt the group's image. Aum Shinri Kyo
means Supreme Truth cult.