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Japan's top court upholds death sentence of cult member, ending AUM trials


15:33, November 21, 2011

TOKYO, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Japan's top court on Monday rejected a death sentence appeal from a leading member of the AUM Shinrikyo cult that was responsible for a series of poisonous gas attacks which killed more than 20 people in the 1990s.

The Supreme Court verdict on Seiichi Endo, 51, marked the end of the AUM trials, which lasted for 16 years. He is the 13th member of the cult to receive a death penalty verdict and one of 180 cult members indicted for the crimes.

Endo was sentenced to death for producing sarin gas used in the deadly 1995 attack on Tokyo subways and for his role in a 1994 sarin attack by the cult in Matsumoto City in central Japan.

He was originally given the death penalty by the Tokyo District Court in October 2002, and the Tokyo High Court upheld the lower court ruling in May 2007.

"Every one of his criminal acts was meant to protect the cult, and its cruel and inhuman acts were unparalleled," said Presiding Justice Seishi Kanetsuki of the Supreme Court's No. 1 Petty Bench in the ruling on Monday.

"The defendant's responsibility for being involved in the killings of a total of 19 people by misusing his scientific knowledge was very heavy, and the death sentence therefore cannot be avoided," he said.

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