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Former Japanese cult follower sentenced to six years in prison

December 25, 1996

TOKYO (AP) _ A man was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday for joining in the fatal torture of a fellow member of the doomsday cult accused of the Tokyo subway gassings.

The prosecution wanted an eight-year sentence for Shinichi Yamauchi, 28, but Judge Yasuro Tanaka of Tokyo District Court said a shorter sentence was in order because Yamauchi left the Aum Shinri Kyo cult and expressed remorse.

Yamauchi was accused of conspiring with senior cult members to torture Toshio Tomita, 27, by sticking needles under his toenails and burning him with hot metal because cult leader Shoko Asahara suspected Tomita was a police spy and wanted a confession.

Yamauchi was also accused of using a large microwave oven to dispose of the bodies of Tomita and Kotaro Ochida, another follower allegedly killed by members of the cult.

Asahara is on trial on murder charges in the March 20, 1995, subway attack that killed 12 people and sickened thousands, and on other murder and kidnapping charges.

At its peak, the cult claimed about 10,000 members in Japan and another 30,000 around the world, most in Russia.

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