A former member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult who was found guilty for his involvement in three crimes back in 1995 is appealing his 9-year prison sentence. The decision was handed down by the Tokyo District Court earlier this month on the matter of 48-year-old Makoto Hirata’s participation in an abduction which resulted in the death of the victim, as well as two bombing incidents.
Hirata filed the appeal last week on the basis of his claims that he had no prior knowledge of both the abduction and the bombing. During his trial, his defense lawyers were looking for a four-year prison term while the prosecution was pushing for a 12-year sentence. His trial was the first one of the Aum Shinrikyo members to have been tried by three professional and six lay judges. Among the lay judges is 54-year-old Minoru Kariya, the son of the abduction victim, Kiyoshi Kariya, who died when several Aum members injected him with an anesthetic. Kariya said he welcomes the appeal from Hirata and hopes that the Tokyo High Court will duly examine the case as well.
Hirata was on the run for 17 years before he turned himself in to the police on December 31, 2011, in a bid to delay the execution of several Aum members who were already on death row. Ironically, the same members who had death sentences, Tomomasa Nakagawa, Yoshihiro Inoue and Yasuo Koike, testified against Hirata during his trial. The three were on death row for their involvement in the deadly sarin gas attacks on a Tokyo subway. Hirata was convicted for the abduction, the bombing of a Tokyo condominium and the firebombing of one of the Aum facilities, but not for the sarin gas attacks.
[ via Mainichi ]