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Japan's doomsday guru may get death penalty

Prosecutors on Thursday demanded the death penalty for a doomsday cult guru charged with masterminding the 1995 nerve gas attack that killed 12 people on Tokyo’s subways. Closing their case in a trial that has already taken seven years, the prosecutors demanded the Tokyo District Court hand down the harshest possible punishment for self-proclaimed messiah Shoko Asahara. “The seriousness of the crime is unprecedented in this country,” the prosecutors said in their closing statement, a several-hundred-page document they took turns reading aloud. “There is no room to consider leniency.” Wearing a gray sweatsuit, his long hair cropped and his beard trimmed, Asahara showed no emotion during Thursday’s session. He appeared to be dozing off as the prosecutors requested he be hanged. The 48-year-old guru, whose doomsday cult once claimed more than 10,000 followers around the world, is accused of sending his top disciples to release the nerve gas sarin on Tokyo’s subways during the morning rush hour on March 20, 1995. Full Story

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