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Japan high court upholds death sentence for cult member involved in nerve gas attack

Japan's Supreme Court [official website, in Japanese] on Monday upheld the death sentence of Aum Shinrikyo [FAS backgrounder] member Seiicho Endo who was sentenced to death in 2002 following his conviction for playing a central role in two nerve gas attacks [CW Terrorism Tutorial] in 1994 and 1995. The court let the death sentence stand [Japan Times report] after rejecting an appeal filed by Endo's lawyers who claimed that he did not execute or plan the attacks and was brainwashed by the cult's founder. Endo is the thirteenth member of the Japanese cult convicted of being involved in the gas attacks to have his death sentence finalized while none of the men have been put to death. Lawyers for Endo have 10 days to file an appeal with the court to correct the ruling. If that appeal is dismissed, Endo's death sentence will be finalized. No ruling has ever been overturned using this appeal procedure.

The group's leader, Shoko Asahara, was sentenced to death [JURIST report] after he was convicted of planning and carrying out a series of crimes and murdering a total of 27 people in 13 criminal cases. In 2006, the Tokyo high court upheld [JURIST report] Masami Tsuchiya's death sentence after he was convicted for aiding the cult in developing the gas used in the two attacks. The nerve gas attacks in Japan resulted in the deaths of 12 people and thousands of injuries.

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