6 Oct 2018 14:14

Russian Investigative Committee declares 5 Aum Shinrikyo unit organizers and members int'l wanted

MOSCOW. Oct 6 (Interfax) - Moscow's Basmanny Court will next week hear an investigator's request to arrest five suspected members and organizers of a cell of the Aum Shinrikyo terrorist sect (banned in Russia) in absentia.

"The court will hear the investigator's request to arrest S. Askerova and V. Stepanov in absentia on October 8, A. Dosmagulov and Ye. Melnikova on October 10, and A. Afrosin on October 9," court spokesperson Yunona Tsaryova told Interfax.

Melnikova and Stepanov have been charged with setting up a terrorist community, namely a stable group of people established in advance to plot and conduct terrorist activities (Part 1 of Article 205.4 of the Russian Penal Code), Tsaryova said. The other suspects face charges of participating in a terrorist community.

All five people have been placed on the international wanted list.

The Russian Investigative Committee announced in April 2016 that it was investigating a criminal case opened into the establishment of a group whose activity involves violence against citizens and causes other harm to their health (Part 1 of Article 239 of the Russian Penal Code).

According to the committee, from 2012 to 2014 this Aum Shinrikyo unit carried out its unlawful actions via the Internet, collecting donations at meetings of Aum Shinrikyo followers.

In May 2018, the Basmanny Court of Moscow authorized the arrest of Mikhail Ustyantsev, who is suspected of establishing a unit of the Aum Shinrikyo terrorist sect.

"The organizers of this community exerted physical and psychological pressure on citizens, forcing them to make donations and give away their property," the Investigative Committee said earlier.

Aum Shinrikyo is a neo-religious syncretic terrorist totalitarian and destructive sect founded by Shoko Asahara.

Aum Shinrikyo gained a worldwide notoriety after a terror attack in the Tokyo subway on March 20, 1995. In five coordinated attacks, the sect members released poisonous gas sarin in the Tokyo metro. A total of 13 people were killed and about 6,000 injured in the attacks.

Twelve members of the sect, including Asahara, were sentenced to capital punishment later. A total of 189 Aum Shinrikyo members were charged in this case.

Asahara and another six Aum Shinrikyo leaders were executed on July 6, 2018.