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Japanese Red Army Founder Gets 20 Years

February 23, 2006

TOKYO (AP) _ A Tokyo court convicted and sentenced a founder of the Japanese Red Army terrorist group on Thursday to 20 years in prison for kidnapping and attempted murder in a 1974 attack on the French Embassy in the Hague, court officials said.

The Tokyo District Court found Fusako Shigenobu, 60, guilty of kidnapping and confinement, as well as attempted murder in the 1974 case, court spokesman Tomoyuki Kushida said. Shigenobu was also convicted of passport law violations.

Shigenobu was arrested in western Japan in November 2000 after more than 25 years on the run, most of it in the Middle East. She had pleaded innocent to the serious charges against her.

The Japanese Red Army, a violent ultra-leftist group sympathetic to Palestinian causes, was formed by Shigenobu in 1971. It took responsibility for several international attacks in the 1970s, including the takeover of the U.S. Consulate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1975.

The group is also suspected in the 1972 machine-gun and grenade assault on the international airport outside Tel Aviv, Israel, that killed 24 people. Shigenobu’s husband died in the cross-fire.

Following her arrest in Japan, Shigenobu declared her group disbanded in 2001.

Another key member is serving his life sentence in the case, with a third still trial at the Tokyo District Court. The fourth, Junzo Okudaira, remains at large.