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Religion News Report

June 30, 2000 (Vol. 4, Issue 221) - 1/2

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=== Waco / Branch Davidians
1. Government begins presentation in Davidian wrongful death lawsuit
2. Judge rejects motion to dismiss Branch Davidian case
3. Agents describe hail of bullets at beginning of siege
4. Plaintiffs in Davidian lawsuit oppose government depiction of Derek
Lovelock
5. Davidian denies that sect fired first
6. Koresh follower weeps on stand recounting his escape and daughter's death
7. Davidian testifies he played no role in fire
8. Waco judge losing patience

=== Aum Shinrikyo
9. AUM cultist sentenced to death for sarin attack
10. Aum victims' kin express anger
11. Key cultist sentenced to die for role in two sarin attacks
12. Japan cult ''murder machine'' sentenced to death
13. Key events for Japan's Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult
14. Aum cult's decade-long growth into sinister empire

=== Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandment of God
15. Cult Dead Were Tutsi - Nadduli

=== Falun Gong
16. Embattled Falun Gong says to fight China by radio
17. Sect activist on hunger strike at airport
18. Pregnant sect member awaits deportation
19. Elderly Falun Gong members arrested

» Part 2

=== Scientology
20. German Scientologist woman surreptitiously obtained asylum in the USA with
counterfeit documents
21. The Big Bluff
22. Scientology Case Judge Faces Probe
23. Pinellas-Pasco Medical examiner retires
24. It's all so very thetan cute

=== Nuwaubians
25. Nuwaubian expansion rejected

=== Mormonism
26. Teen Laced Mormons' Cupcakes, Cops Say

=== Islam
27. TV comment adds fules to mosque controversy

=== Buddhism
28. China Removes Religious Official Two-Years After Fleeing

=== Catholicism
29. Examining Fatima visions
30. Anger at Fatima 'betrayal'

=== Paganism / Witchcraft
31. Expert: 'Watered-down' gangs pose real threat

=== Hate Groups / Hate Crimes
32. Lawsuit filed against gun manufacturers over Midwestern hate shootings
33. Police, Skinheads Clash in Central Moscow

=== France - Proposed Cult Crimes Law
34. Sweeping new laws on sects 'could be abused'
35. Oo la la - Naughty France Considers Jailing Evangelists

=== Other News
36. Former Way member alleges wrongdoing
37. Dad Accused of Killing 'Devil' Daughter
38. Utah polygamist ordered to stand trial
39. 'Queen Shahmia' trial underway
40. Meditation protected by patent
41. Judge slams defiance of SLA gag order
42. Supreme Court says Boy Scouts can bar gay troop leaders
43. Victory Has Consequences of Its Own
44. Greek Church Targets ID Cards

=== Polls / Trends
45. Poll: More object to religious limits


=== Waco / Branch Davidians

1. Government begins presentation in Davidian wrongful death lawsuit
Waco Tribune-Herald, June 29, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/
local/2000/06/29/962328521.25645.6289.0131.html
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Jurors in the Branch Davidian wrongful death lawsuit shifted their focus Thursday from inside the sect's compound to the outside as the government began presenting its side of the case.
(...)

After plaintiffs' attorneys concluded their cases Thursday morning, U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. rejected a motion by government lawyers to dismiss the lawsuit by Branch Davidian survivors and family members.

In testimony Thursday afternoon, ATF agents Eric Evers and Kris Mayfield testified that they never expected to be met by such strong resistance as they arrived at David Koresh's compound to arrest the sect leader on weapons violations charges and search the building.
(...)

Mayfield told jurors that he saw an unarmed Koresh for an instant standing in the doorway as he and other agents approached. He said he didn't hear Koresh say anything before the door closed and automatic gunfire shot through the closed door and front wall. Seconds before that, Mayfield said he had heard gunfire on the north side of the compound.

Mayfield, who said he didn't have his pistol drawn when he ran up to the front door, leaped behind a piece of equipment near the front door for cover and said he drew his weapon and returned fire through the front door and a nearby window.

Government attorney Marie Hagen asked why he didn't have his weapon drawn sooner.

''We didn't expect to have anybody ambush us or shoot at us,'' he said.

Government attorneys carried half of the mangled double front door over to within a few feet of the five-member jury to provide a closer view of the bullet holes. Mayfield said that the bullet holes in the door indicate bullets that traveled in both directions.

Government officials have said they misplaced the right side of the double front door, and Davidian defense attorneys during the criminal trial in San Antonio got a lot of mileage out of speculating why the other half of the door is missing.
(...)

Caddell asked Mayfield to count the number of incoming bullet holes in the left side of door. Mayfield counted four incoming bullet holes.

Flipping the door, Caddell asked Mayfield, ''Do those look like tank treads to you? Something ran over it.''

''Yes, sir,'' Mayfield said.

Caddell then asked if a Davidian might have fired through the door as a tank barrelled over it. Hagen, however, objected before Mayfield could answer. Smith agreed that the question called for speculation.

Hagen later had Mayfield count the number of outgoing bullet holes in the door. There were 10.

Caddell showed the court a photograph taken during the siege that showed the missing right side of the door. It was peppered with bullet holes. That's the side of the door that Koresh held open when he greeted the ATF.

Surviving Davidians claim it was proof that ATF agents were the aggressors on the day of the raid. Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin, Koresh's attorney during the siege, testified earlier that all the bullet holes in the right side of the door were from incoming shots.

After court recessed, Caddell said the government's introduction of the door backfired.

''Bringing the left-half of the door into the courtroom was not a good move,'' Caddell said. ''It's got tank treads on it. It's got bullet holes that its own witness admits are bigger than the Davidian bullet holes.''

And, Caddell said, it raises questions as to what happened to the other side of the door.

''Clearly, I think the right-hand door was lost on purpose,'' Caddell said. ''I don't think there's any other reasonable conclusion.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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2. Judge rejects motion to dismiss Branch Davidian case
St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP, June 29, 2000
http://www.postnet.com/postnet/stories.nsf/ByDocID
/86256794004608DB8625690D0062C6F7?OpenDocument
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WACO, Texas (AP) -- A federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss wrongful death claims by Branch Davidian survivors and family members.

Government attorneys argued that the plaintiffs, who wrapped up their case against the government at midmorning, had failed to prove their claims.

U.S. District Judge Walter Smith denied the motion without comment and instructed the government to begin its defense.
(...)

The government has estimated it will take less than two weeks to present its defense.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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3. Agents describe hail of bullets at beginning of siege
Dallas Morning News, June 30, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/104031_waco_30tex.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent Kris Mayfield said a hail of machine-gun fire ripped through the door within seconds after Branch Davidian leader David Koresh stared at approaching ATF agents and then slammed it shut.
(...)

U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith rejected government arguments that the plaintiffs had failed to offer enough evidence of government negligence or wrongdoing to allow their case to go to a jury. After hearing a lengthy oral argument from U.S. Attorney Michael Bradford of Beaumont, the judge tersely denied the government's dismissal motion without waiting to hear a plaintiff response.
(...)

On Thursday, lead plaintiffs' lawyer Michael Caddell tried to suggest that Mr. Evers could have inadvertently started the gunfight with a discharge from his own handgun.

''It'd be horrible to feel responsible for unleashing that,'' Mr. Caddell said after reciting the number of people injured and killed on both sides.

''I didn't unleash anything,'' Mr. Evers responded.

Mr. Evers testified that he had his pistol in a holster and was carrying a baton when the first gunshots rang out. He said he didn't run toward the compound carrying his gun because he was assigned to subdue any men who were outside working and that there were two agents running behind him who were providing him with adequate cover.

He said he only drew his gun after jumping into a ditch, where he lay bleeding for almost three hours before the gunfight subsided. He added that he never fired, even when a sect member charged at an agent coming to his rescue after a cease-fire.

''You knew that these people had guns, bad guns, bombs and knew how to use 'em?'' Mr. Caddell prodded, noting that all of the ATF agents had been warned that the sect had been tipped off to their raid. ''You want the jury to believe that you were carrying your baton. ...You didn't unholster your weapon?''

Mr. Caddell also noted that the agent's first statement to a Texas Ranger, recorded 16 days after the raid, included Mr. Evers' description of running ''to take a cover position'' before any gunshots rang out. ''I 'covered down' on any windows and doors on the side of the structure,'' he told the Ranger in March 1993.

In that statement, the agent added that he assumed the first shots he heard came from agents shooting the compound's dogs, because ''they had told us to be ready for gunfire or bangs or flash bangs.''

''You don't 'cover down' with a baton, do you?'' Mr. Caddell prodded, prompting Mr. Evers to ask if there was ''any chance'' he might be questioned instead on a later statement in which he removed any reference to the phrase, ''cover down.''

But he later conceded that '''cover down' is where I'm holding a firearm down at somebody.''

Under government questioning, both agents said they were surprised at hearing the first gunshots, even though they knew that the Branch Davidians knew they were coming.

Asked why they went ahead with the raid after learning the sect had been warned, Mr. Mayfield said, ''It was still our job to serve warrants, and we never ever expected to get shot at doing our job and our duty.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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4. Plaintiffs in Davidian lawsuit oppose government depiction of Derek Lovelock
Waco Tribune-Herald, June 29, 2000
http://www.accesswaco.com/auto/feed/news/
local/2000/06/29/962321827.25645.2940.0126.html
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The plaintiffs in the Branch Davidians' wrongful-death lawsuit against the government are fighting an attempt to depict Derek Lovelock as having helped set the fires that destroyed Mount Carmel.

Lovelock was one of nine Davidians to escape the blaze that led to the deaths of David Koresh and 75 followers.

The government accused Lovelock of implicating himself by refusing to read the alleged statements about lighting a fire picked up by surveillance devices inside Mount Carmel on April 19, 1993, according to Houston attorney Mike Caddell, lead plaintiffs attorney.

The government wants U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. of Waco to interpret Lovelock's refusal as proof he made the statements, Caddell said.

''They just sprung this on the guy,'' Caddell said. ''He was supposed to go back to England the next day. He didn't know what to do. He didn't have a criminal lawyer. He had to get advice from a civil attorney. He went ahead and gave his deposition, which some criminal lawyers have said was a stupid thing to do.''

Government officials refused to comment on the pending matter.

In a motion asking Smith to block the government's legal strategy, Caddell accused the government of ''ambushing'' Lovelock.

''The government could have requested this sample through written discovery, giving Lovelock and his counsel a reasonable opportunity and time to consider and discuss it,'' Caddell wrote in his motion. ''Instead, his civil attorney, who has no criminal law experience, was forced to recess the deposition, to hold a quick conference and provide some superficial advice to a frightened and confused client.''

Caddell said the government's motive in requesting a voice sample from Lovelock was clear.

''It expected Lovelock to refuse, and his counsel to so advise him, because of the manner in which the request was made'' Caddell wrote. ''It then knew it could attempt to get a presumption against Lovelock and try to use that to hurt all of the Davidians' cases.''
(...)

''Ultimately, Mr. Lovelock is no different than the FBI agents who refused to take a polygraph exam,'' Caddell wrote. ''Plaintiffs have not attempted to use their refusal to establish substantive points, and the court should not permit the government to do that with Mr. Lovelock.''
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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5. Davidian denies that sect fired first
Dallas Morning News, June 29, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/waco/103542_waco_29tex.ART.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
WACO - Branch Davidian Clive Doyle acknowledged Wednesday that sect members considered David Koresh as God incarnate, but he denied repeatedly that they fired the first shots in a deadly standoff with the government or torched their compound to end it.

He wept as he told jurors in the sect's wrongful-death trial about how his daughter, Shari, died in the compound fire. But he acknowledged never trying to find the 18-year-old or even seeing her on the day that the the building burned.

Government lawyer Jim Touhey ridiculed Mr. Doyle in the most intense cross-examination of the eight-day trial, noting that he had taken great pains to rescue his mongrel dog before leaping through a hole in the burning building.

''And you didn't go look for your daughter, who died in the fire?'' he demanded.

''No, I didn't,'' Mr. Doyle responded.
(...)

Neither Mr. Doyle nor any of the nine other fire survivors were ever charged with arson. Mr. Doyle was acquitted after a 1994 trial in which he was accused of conspiring to murder federal agents in the gunbattle that started the standoff.

During his often combative cross-examination, Mr. Touhey displayed a shredded, blackened nylon jacket taken from Mr. Doyle after his escape. The government lawyer then asked if he could explain why its sleeves contained traces of flammable liquids.

Mr. Doyle said the flammable substance could've been spattered on his clothing as he refilled white-gas and oil lanterns used to light the building during the 51-day siege. He testified earlier Wednesday that 30 to 40 lanterns were distributed throughout the building for light after FBI agents cut off the compound's electricity, and that fuel for the lamps was kept in the chapel area where he slept and lived during the siege.

The government's case is expected to include testimony from an Arlington chemist whose testing determined that the jacket's sleeves contained traces of charcoal lighter fluid. Lawyers for the sect have said that claim may be questionable because more than a dozen other substances are known to mimic the chemical fingerprint of charcoal fluid.

Mr. Touhey then demanded that Mr. Doyle explain how he sustained third-degree burns that covered his hands up to his jacket sleeves when none of the other seven men who escaped the blaze suffered similar burns.

''In the fire. Maybe you should try it sometime,'' Mr. Doyle responded. ''It was the only part that was exposed. ... If you were in that kind of fire, perhaps you'd understand.''

One of the women who escaped, Misty Ferguson, lost all of her fingers in the blaze, and one of the men suffered a burned arm. Ms. Ferguson, 24, testified Tuesday that her hands were burned as she struggled to escape an upstairs hallway that had been bashed in by repeated tank intrusions before the fire.

Mr. Doyle insisted that he knew of ''no plan'' for setting a fire, and that he never saw anyone doing anything to start one. He said he and others went immediately to escape after ''being told'' that the building was in flames. He added he was burned when he was driven to the floor by the fire's intense heat.

''There was no doctrine of suicide that's been held in this church since I've been a member or even before that,'' said Mr. Doyle, 59. ''There was no plan to commit suicide. We had an agreement coming out as soon as certain things took place. We were hanging on that. ... There was an elation, I would say, that this is finally going to be over and resolved peacefully.''
(...)

The Davidians' religious beliefs were a major focus of Mr. Doyle's testimony and a repeated flashpoint between lawyers on both sides.

Mr. Touhey pressed Mr. Doyle hard on his belief that Mr. Koresh not only spoke for God but was a physical manifestation of divinity who could claim sole rights to sex with all women in the group - even married women. At one point, Mr. Doyle acknowledged that his faith was so complete that he considered Mr. Koresh to be speaking for God, and that anything God asked him to do would not be a sin.

He said Mr. Koresh's ''marriages'' to many of the women in the sect were done ''for spiritual reasons,'' but never asked his daughter whether she had ''married'' the 33-year-old sect leader.

''You thought a teenager having sex with David Koresh was something spiritual?'' Mr. Touhey said, prompting a retort from Mr. Doyle that ''millions of Catholic women'' become nuns and consider themselves ''Brides of Christ.'' ''We gave ourselves totally to God,'' Mr. Doyle added.

In a pointed rebuke to the government, Davidian lawyer Michael Caddell later noted that the sect's sexual and marital practices ''probably seem strange to most people in this courtroom,'' adding: ''Does that mean your daughter deserved to die? ... Does that mean she didn't have any value?''

Mr. Doyle broke down as the Houston lawyer continued, ''Does ever a day go by when you don't think about your daughter making it out?'' Mr. Doyle finally sobbed, ''I live with this every day.''

Mr. Touhey tried to suggest that the shootout that began the standoff was the culmination of Mr. Koresh's prophecies that the world would end in a violent conflict at the sect's Waco compound.

But Mr. Doyle said that Mr. Koresh's teachings focused on an apocalyptic battle in Israel. He said that the guns found inside the compound after the fire weren't stockpiled for battle but were collected for an ongoing gun-show business.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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6. Koresh follower weeps on stand recounting his escape and daughter's death
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 28, 2000
http://www.postnet.com/postnet/stories.nsf/ByDocID
/063EF748DFE8B9758625690D0038CDC8?OpenDocument
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(...) Jim Touhey, a lawyer for the government, asked Doyle how he managed to get out, saving his dog in the process. Earlier, Doyle had testified that he threw his dog out of a hole in the wall of the burning building.

''Your daughter's there and you don't go to check on her?'' Touhey asked.

''I didn't know where my daughter was,'' Doyle replied.

Doyle is one of the survivors who have filed a multimillion-dollar wrongful death suit against the government, claiming that agents' actions caused deaths and injuries during the 1993 siege. He testified Wednesday in the trial of the suit after being called as a witness by his lawyer, Ramsey Clark, who is representing some of the Davidian survivors.

Doyle described the conditions within the complex during the siege and outlined the sect's religious beliefs. He said he believed the sect's leader, David Koresh, to be the embodiment of God.

''We believed that God was speaking through him, yes,'' said Doyle, who was 52 at the time of the government's siege near Waco.

Doyle said that Koresh took as his ''wife'' many of the women of the complex. He acknowledged that he had heard his daughter was one of them but that he never knew for sure.

''It was not discussed,'' Doyle said. ''My position was, if she made a choice for spiritual reasons to enter into a relationship, it was her decision.'' Shari Doyle was 18 at the time of the siege.
(...)

He said the first shots he heard during the raid came from outside the buildings, where the federal agents were. He speculated that that may have been the agents killing the Davidians' dogs. Federal agents shot the dogs on the way to the front door of the complex, according to testimony in the criminal trial in 1994.
(...)

The initial gun battle led to a 51-day siege during which the FBI tried to force out Davidians. On April 19, 1993, tanks and FBI agents poured tear gas into the complex, and a fire began.

About 80 Davidians died. Doyle said the group would have come out in about two weeks, after Koresh had completed his interpretation of the Seven Seals of the Bible.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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7. Davidian testifies he played no role in fire
Dallas Morning News, June 29, 2000
http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/103598_wacoweb.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
(...) Mr. Doyle's testimony was marked by often tediously detailed questioning by Mr. Clark, and repeated flashes of impatience from U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith.

After government lawyers objected to Mr. Clark's questions about the sect's efforts to rebuild a church at the site of its burned building, the judge demanded, ''What's the relevance?'' When Mr. Clark said his questions were designed to show ''that the faith goes on,'' the judge again demanded, ''what's the relevance of that?''

''I think it's important to establish that you can't crush religion,'' Mr. Clark said.

''That's not the purpose of this trial,'' the judge said.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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8. Waco judge losing patience
San Antonio Express-News, June 28, 2000
http://www.hearstnp.com/san_antonio/bea/news
/stories/san/san38976.shtml
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WACO - About noon Wednesday, Judge Walter Smith Jr., red-faced and gesturing over his shoulder like an irate baseball umpire, barked ''Approach the bench!''

A half-dozen sheepish lawyers gathered before him to hear a sharp and impassioned lecture about wasting time. The Davidian wrongful death suit is in its second week.

Smith's temper already had flared twice in the previous 20 minutes, as plaintiffs attorney Ramsey Clark questioned his witness, Mount Carmel fire survivor Clive Doyle, 59, in a leisurely if thorough way.

''Mr. Clark, you are taking too much time!'' the judge said in his first outburst.
(...)

Smith did not mention the 40-hour time limit that he last week imposed upon plaintiffs attorneys. Instead, lawyers in the case say, the judge has assured Clark he will be granted sufficient time to present his case.
(...)

Doyle was acquitted of criminal charges in a 1994 federal trial in San Antonio, and schoolteacher Sarah Bain, forewoman of the jury in that case, sat in the courtroom as he testified Wednesday.

''I wish that we'd had the opportunity to hear the defendants in 1994,'' she told the San Antonio Express-News. None of the 11 Davidians who were accused took the stand in that trial.

Doyle's testimony brought three questions from the jury, the greatest number it has submitted to any witness. The questions concerned Davidian theology and the presence of children inside Mount Carmel the day of the fire.

''Some of the children wanted to come out with their parents, and because of the negotiations, we thought that could be any day,'' the Davidian survivor explained.

Clark's strategy in questioning Doyle for four hours Tuesday and Wednesday was to elicit a narrative of the 1993 events at Mount Carmel, something that had not been done during this trial. Federal attorneys objected to Clark's line of questioning 36 times Wednesday.

Doyle's testimony broke new ground by touching on areas previously ignored by plaintiffs attorneys or banned by limits imposed by federal law and Smith.

Doyle, for example, mentioned the terms of negotiations between FBI agents and David Koresh during the 51-day siege.

On April 14, Koresh had promised to surrender, Doyle said, after he had penned an interpretation of the biblical Seven Seals.

''If the water held out and we had the means to live until then, we would come out when David finished writing,'' Doyle testified.

According to his account, Mount Carmel was supplied by water from an electric pump. Once federal agents shut off electricity, water collection was dependent upon rainfall, Doyle said.
(...)

Doyle was followed on the stand by Sheila Judith Martin, who lost her husband and four of her seven children in the April 19, 1993, Mount Carmel fire.

She testified that when federal agents raided Mount Carmel on Feb. 28, 1993, bullets came through the window of the room where she and her three smallest children were quartered.
(...)

Martin and the three children came out of Mount Carmel early in the 51-day siege. Jamie died of natural causes two years ago in Waco.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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=== Aum Shinrikyo

9. AUM cultist sentenced to death for sarin attack
Mainichi Daily News (Japan), June 30, 2000
http://www.mainichi.co.jp/english/news/news01.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
A former AUM Shinrikyo executive was sentenced to death Thursday for his leading role in the 1995 sarin gas attacks on Tokyo subways that killed 12 and sickened thousands.

Yasuo Hayashi, 42, a high-ranking member of the cult accused of killing eight people in the attack, received the death penalty for his actions in his sentencing at the Tokyo District Court.

During the trial, Presiding Judge Kiyoshi Kimura said that Hayashi had committed the crime with the intention of advancing his own interests in the cult, and acknowledged that he had played a leading role.
(...)

Hayashi, a senior member of the cult's science and technology section, earlier told the court he had expected to receive the death sentence for the crimes.

''I believe I will be sentenced to death regardless of my motives for the crimes,'' he was quoted as saying.

He also accepted the term ''killing machine,'' as appropriate in light of his actions.

''When I look objectively at what I've done, I can see that I am just that,'' he said in reference to the term.
(...)

Lawyers representing Hayashi defended his actions, saying he was simply following orders - under threat of death - of cult leader Shoko Asahara. They insisted that if Hayashi had defied Asahara's orders in the sarin attack, he would have been murdered by cult members.

Hayashi was one of five members of the doomsday cult accused of being directly involved in the gassing and the second member to be handed the death penalty.

Last September, the court sentenced Masato Yokoyama, 36, to death for his involvement in the attack. Ikuo Hayashi, a 53-year-old cult member, also was sentenced to life imprisonment in May 1998 for his supporting role in the crime.

Toru Toyoda and Kenichi Hirose, two other cult members who prosecutors say should receive the death penalty for their role in the gassing, are to be sentenced July 17.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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10. Aum victims' kin express anger
Asahi News (Japan), June 30, 2000
http://www.asahi.com/english/asahi/0630/asahi063005.htmlOff-site Link
[Story no longer online? Read this]
Bereaved families of victims of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo cult gas attack expressed their anger against Yasuo Hayashi, who was sentenced to death Thursday for his part in the crime.
(...)

The court gave Hayashi, 42, a death sentence for his involvement in the March 20, 1995, sarin gas attack, which claimed a total of 12 lives and sickened more than 5,000 people on the Tokyo subway system.

The former senior member of the cult was also found guilty of taking part in another sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on June 27, 1994, in which seven people died.
(...)

According to defense lawyers, Hayashi has made his own Buddhist altar to which he prays for the souls of his victims.
[...more...]   [Need the full story? Read this]
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11. Key cultist sentenced to die for role in two sarin attacks
Japan Times (Japan), June 30, 2000
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5
?nn20000630a1.htm
Off-site Link
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(...) Presiding Judge Kiyoshi Kimura said Hayashi deserves to die because his crimes inflicted ''incredible'' pain and agony upon the victims and their next of kin and posed a serious threat to society.

''Even though the defendant has been cooperative and repentant since his arrest, the role he played in the crimes cannot be forgiven,'' Kimura said, supporting the prosecution's demand for the death penalty.

The judge also rejected Hayashi's claim that he was afraid of cult leader Shoko Asahara and could not refuse his orders to carry out the attacks out of fear that he would be killed.

Pointing out that Hayashi was a fugitive for 18 months until his arrest in December 1996, the judge also said he maintained a strong faith in Asahara until the very end, countering claims by the defense that he was repentant.
(...)

Hayashi, who joined Aum in 1987 at the age of 29, helped put together the vehicle used to release sarin in the residential area of Matsumoto on June 27, 1994, the court said.

The attack, aimed to disrupt ongoing litigation filed by local residents against the cult before the Nagano District Court, killed seven residents and injured more than 270 people.

In the subway attack, the objective of which was allegedly to create chaos in the heart of the central government and distract police from carrying out raids on the cult, Hayashi carried three plastic bags containing liquid sarin -- more than any of the other cultists -- onto a subway car on the morning of March 20.
(...)

The court also said Hayashi and four other Aum members placed bags of cyanide gas in a men's toilet in an underground concourse at Shinjuku Station on the Marunouchi subway line on May 5, 1995, in a bid to distract police from their investigation into Asahara.
(...)

During his trial, Hayashi admitted taking part in the three attacks, but claimed he dared not refuse any order from Asahara.

Hayashi said he began to have doubts around 1990 that Asahara was ''the final emancipator'' but believed the guru could still lead his training.

However, since Asahara began to punish or kill those who defied his orders, Hayashi became terrified and could not leave the cult, he said.

In addition, Hayashi said he was secretly dating a female follower at the time, an act that was prohibited by Asahara. Hayashi claimed he feared he would be killed if Asahara learned his secret.

The defendant also claimed he was not fully aware of the deadly nature of the sarin and did not think anyone would be killed by the substance. Hayashi also said in court that he did not know sarin was going to be sprayed in Matsumoto.

The court, however, said Hayashi maintained a strong faith in Asahara and spontaneously played key roles in the cult's crimes.

After his lawyers' final argument in February, Hayashi said the cult's crimes were ''insane and perverted'' and he suffers anguish every time he thinks of them.

Expressing apologies to the victims, Hayashi said at the time that he believed he would be sentenced to death.
(...)

Hiroshi Araki, a spokesman for the cult, which now calls itself Aleph, also attended Thursday's court session. He said later that while he respects the ruling, it was regrettable that Hayashi, whom he respected as a person, had received the death penalty.

Thursday's ruling is the third in which an Aum defendant has received the death penalty.

In 1999, the cult's chief scientist, Masato Yokoyama, was sentenced to die for his role in the subway attack. Kazuaki Okazaki was sentenced to hang in 1998 in connection with the 1989 abduction and murder of anti-Aum lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto and his family.

Of the 14 cultists accused of taking part in the subway attack, four, including cult doctor Ikuo Hayashi and intelligence chief Yoshihiro Inoue, have been given life terms.

Prosecutors are also seeking the death penalty for Kenichi Hirose and Toru Toyoda in connection with the subway attack. The court is expected to issue a ruling on July 17, when it will also decide the fate of Shigeo Sugimoto, whom prosecutors want sentenced to life for driving one of the attackers to a train station.
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12. Japan cult ''murder machine'' sentenced to death
AOL/Reuters, June 29, 2000
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table=n&cat=01&id=0006290253230967
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TOKYO, June 29 (Reuters) - A key member of Japan's doomsday cult, dubbed a ''murder machine'' by the media for his crimes, including taking part in the deadly 1995 gas attack on the Tokyo subway, was sentenced to death on Thursday.
(...)

Hayashi, who had travelled around the world in search of spiritual guidance, found it in the teachings of Aum founder Shoko Asahara, and joined the cult when he was 30.

But what he did in the cult was far from being spiritual.

He is believed to have been a core player in the group's illegal activities, which ranged from harassment of former members and wire-tapping their homes to actual killing.

In the 1994 gas attack, Hayashi was accused of helping to build a car to release sarin gas in a residential area.

Seven died in the attack, which was carried out near a dormitory for judges and court officials. Aum is believed to have targeted judges who were handling a lawsuit involving the cult.
(...)

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, remains on trial for masterminding the Tokyo subway gassing and for more than 16 other charges.

Asahara's trial, now in its fifth year, promises to go on much longer in what has come to symbolise the nation's notoriously snail-paced court system, with some legal experts saying it may well take over 15 years for a final verdict.

While most of Aum's leaders are now behind bars, the cult still remains active, prompting the government to place it under surveillance in February for three years. The move allows authorities to inspect all its sites.

For its part, the cult has changed its name and insists that it is now a benign religious group.

In the past, Aum preached the world was coming to an end and that the cult must arm itself to prepare for various calamities.
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13. Key events for Japan's Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult
Yahoo/AFP, June 29, 2000
http://asia.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/asia/afp/article.html
?s=asia/headlines/000629/asia/afp/
Key_events_for_Japan_s_Aum_Supreme_Truth_doomsday_cult.html
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A Japanese court Thursday sentenced to death Aum Supreme Truth cult disciple Yasuo Hayashi for unleashing Sarin gas in a murderous 1995 attack on the Tokyo subway.

Here is a chronology of major events since the cult was founded by Shoko Asahara, now aged 45:

February 1984: Shoko Asahara, who claims to have been spiritually awakened in the Himalayas, founds a small religious sect in Tokyo.

July 1987: Asahara renames the cult Aum Supreme Truth with headquarters at Fujinomiya in central Japan and in Tokyo.

November 1989: An anti-Aum lawyer, his wife and infant son disappear from their apartment in Yokohama west of Tokyo.

February 1990: Asahara and followers unsuccessfully run for office in parliamentary elections.

June 1994: The lethal Nazi-invented Sarin gas is released in the central Japanese city of Matsumoto at night, killing seven people.

March 1995: Cult members release Sarin gas in Tokyo subways during the morning rush hour, killing 12 people and injuring thousands of others in an attack that stuns the world.

April 1995: The cult's ''science and technology minister'' Hideo Murai dies after being stabbed several times in the stomach by a 29-year-old man before television cameras in front of the Tokyo headquarters.

May 1995: Police arrest Asahara in a secret room at the cult's sprawling commune in Kamikuishiki village at the foot of Mount Fuji.

April 1996: Asahara goes on trial on 17 criminal charges.

January 1997: The government's Public Security Commission decides not to outlaw the sect, saying there is insufficient reason to believe it is still a threat with only about 1,000 full and part-time members.

October 1998: A Japanese court sentences a founding member of Aum, Kazuaki Okazaki, to death by hanging for the murder of four people including the anti-sect lawyer.

September 1999: Tokyo District Court sentences senior cult member Masato Yokoyama to hang for spreading Sarin gas in Tokyo's subways in 1995, the first death penalty handed out for the outrage.

December 1999: Parliament passes legislation allowing police to conduct raids and demand information and financial data from the sect without the need for a warrant.

January 2000: The sect changes its name to ''Aleph'' as part of a facelift. It promises to reform the group by appointing former translator Tatsuko Muraoka as new cult representative.

January 2000: The Public Security Commission approves a crackdown on the cult amid fears it could strike again.

June 29, 2000: A Japanese court sentences Aum Supreme Truth cult's Yasuo Hayashi to death for unleashing Sarin gas in the 1995 Tokyo subway attack.
[...entire item...]


14. Aum cult's decade-long growth into sinister empire
Yahoo/AFP, June 29, 2000
http://asia.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/asia/afp/article.html?
s=asia/headlines/000629/asia/afp/
Aum_cult_s_decade-long_growth_into_sinister_empire.html
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Before shocking the world by unleashing mass murder, Japan's Aum Supreme Truth was an obscure cult with its roots in a small yoga school run by a half-blind acupuncturist.

In 1995, when it spread Nazi-invented Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway killing 12 and injuring thousands, the cult looked to be making true its claim that doomsday was coming.

The sect was founded in 1984 by a guru with failing eyesight, Shoko Asahara, as a yoga and meditation group called ''Aum Shinsen-no-kai (Aum Group of Gods and Saints).
(...)

Asahara's ambition had grown in step with his group's. He wanted to become prime minister, according to disciples, and unsuccessfully ran for a parliamentary seat in 1990.

He taught his disciples that killing people who had committed ''sins'' was an act of salvation. That eventually applied to all people living in the modern world and became his justification for indiscriminate mass murder.

The flowing-haired and bearded Asahara declared himself to be the reincarnation of the Hindu god of destruction, Shiva, and the only person to have attained final enlightenment.

Many gave the cult all their cash and property in the hope of spiritually surviving the apocalypse envisioned by Asahara.

Before the subway attack, the cult was responsible for a Sarin gas attack on the central city of Matsumoto at night which killed seven. But its involvement was only revealed after the Tokyo subway outrage.
(...)

While stopping short of banning the group, parliament in December agreed to allow police to conduct raids and demand information and financial data from the sect without the need for a warrant.

The cult issued a statement on January 18 deposing the jailed guru as leader, naming Tatsuko Muraoka, a former romantic novel translator and nanny for Asahara's children, as its new representative.

The sect then changed its name to Aleph and vowed reforms, including a pledge to obey the law.

But authorities, alarmed as the sect improved its finances through computer and software sales and recruited new followers, were not convinced.

In January the Public Security Commission approved a clampdown on the sect amid fears it could strike again, putting it under surveillance for three years.

The panel judged Asahara ''still has a decisive influence on the sect'' and the cult ''still has the danger of committing indiscriminate mass murder in the future.''
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=== Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandment of God

15. Cult Dead Were Tutsi - Nadduli
The Monitor/Africa News Online (Uganda), June 28, 2000
http://www.africanews.org/east/uganda/stories/
20000628/20000628_feat6.html
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Kampala - Luwero district LCV Chairman, Haji Abdul Nadduli has said the hundreds of bodies exhumed from Kanungu cult mass graves were of Rwandese.
(...)

He said the leader of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, Joseph Kibwetere was among the Rwandese interahamwe (genociders) sent to Uganda to identify and kill Rwandese Tutsi ''quickly and in silence''.

''The (Hutu) interahamwe did not want them to go and join their fellows in Rwanda,'' he said.

Over 400 people were March 17 burnt to death in the cult's church in Kanungu, Rukungiri, while several hundred bodies were discovered in secret mass graves at cult compounds.

Nadduli said Kibwetere's religion was founded as an umbrella under which all the Rwandese were collected and massacred, and that there could have been some Banyankole killed because it was hard to differentiate them and the Rwandese.

''If there were any Baganda, then the fraction was one out of the thousands,'' he said.

The LCV chairman challenged the locals to put up their hands if they lost any of their relatives in Kanungu or other identified mass graves.

''The dead were over 1,000, how many of these came from Wobulenzi?'' he asked and the crowd shouted ''none''.

He said he had travelled all over Kampala city but had not met any person who claims to have lost a relative in the brutal Kanungu incident.
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=== Falun Gong

16. Embattled Falun Gong says to fight China by radio
AOL/Reuters, June 30, 2000
http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?
table=n&cat=01&id=0006300256287126
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BEIJING, June 30 (Reuters) - The embattled Falun Gong spiritual movement will take to the air waves on Saturday with daily Chinese-language broadcasts designed to counter Beijing's harsh crackdown on the sect, the group said.

Almost a year after China banned Falun Gong and launched a crackdown on what it has labelled an ''evil cult,'' World Falun Dafa Radio will make its debut on 9.915 MHz and online at www.falundafaradio.org, it said in a statement.

Falun Dafa, which means the Great Law of the Dharma Wheel, is another name for the movement, which combines meditation with a doctrine rooted loosely in Buddhist and Daoist teachings.

The nightly one-hour broadcast at 10 p.m. Beijing time (1400 GMT) aims to counter ''defamation'' and ''persecution'' of the meditation movement by Communist authorities, it said. The statement did not say where the broadcast is coming from.
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17. Sect activist on hunger strike at airport
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), June 30, 2000
http://www.scmp.com/News/China/Article/
FullText_asp_ArticleID-20000630032550338.asp
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A pregnant woman, one of the three Falun Gong members denied entry to Hong Kong, is on hunger strike inside the airport's restricted zone.

Wendy Fang Wenqing, 30, who is five months pregnant, has been in the airport since arriving from San Francisco on Wednesday morning. She has refused to eat since. Ms Fang, although married to a US resident, still travels on a mainland passport. She said immigration officials had refused her entry and urged her to return to the US because she did not have a valid visa.
(...)

She said she wanted to see her parents in Shanghai and see the Buddha statue on Lantau Island.

Ms Fang said officials questioned her about other sect followers during the inquiries. ''They asked me for a list of people who practise Falun Gong and our leaders,'' she said.

The other two sect members were sent back where they came from.
(...)

An Immigration Department spokesman said the bar had nothing to do with their sect. They were refused entry because they did not meet immigration requirements. He said the Government did not have a blacklist of Falun Gong followers.
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18. Pregnant sect member awaits deportation
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), June 30, 2000
http://www.scmp.com/News/HongKong/Article/
FullText_asp_ArticleID-20000630150627704.asp
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A pregnant member of the Falun Gong movement, who became ill during a hunger strike at Chek Lap Kok, was awaiting deportation after being discharged from hospital on Friday morning.

Wendy Fang Wenqing, 32, and five months pregnant began the hunger strike after being refused entry into Hong Kong on Wednesday.
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19. Elderly Falun Gong members arrested
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), June 29, 2000
http://www.scmp.com/News/China/Article/
FullText_asp_ArticleID-20000629032014741.asp
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Police detained 15 members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement at Tiananmen Square yesterday, according to a witness.

The practitioners, mostly elderly women who appeared to be from the countryside, were ordered into police vans between 10.30am and 11.15am, the amateur photographer said.

Two younger practitioners tried to resist police and were pushed into the vans, the witness said.

The protesters had tried to unfurl the Falun Gong's trademark yellow banners to express their support for the movement, which many sect members claim has helped to turn around their lives.

A Falun Gong practitioner in Beijing said the number of arrests in such a short period of time was not unusual. ''It's not a special day. Every day there are people out there getting arrested,'' he said.

A Hong Kong-based human rights group said 100 practitioners, most in Tiananmen Square and at the National People's Congress' complaints bureau, were arrested every day.
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» Continued in Part 2