Aum Shin Rikyo. A member of the cult which released deadly sarin gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995 testified that he did not realize how fatal the substance is. Yasuo Hayashi is one of five cult members who took part in the actual releasing of the sarin, which killed 12 people and made thousands of other sick. He was testifying in the murder and attempted murder trial of cult leader Shoko Asahara. Hayashi said that if he and others had known how dangerous the sarin was, they would have handled the substance more carefully, rather than transporting a box of sarin-filled bags in a car trunk. The gas attack is believed to be part of a cult plan to destabilize the government so it could take over.
Aum Shin Rikyo. An ex-high-ranking member of Aum Shin Rikyo was arrested for the 1989 killing of a 21-year-old fellow cult member attempting to leave the group. Tochiyasu Ouchi, 45, was arrested after having been deported from Russia to Cyprus, then from Cyprus to Japan. Ouchi had been stationed for the cult in Russia until Russia suspended the cult's activities there following the 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo and detained Ouchi. In March, Russia dropped criminal charges and deported Ouchi to Cyprus.
CAN. The $1.09 million judgment against the Cult Awareness Network was upheld by a federal apeals court. Jason Scott sued CAN after he was involuntarily deprogrammed by a cult expert referred to his mother by a CAN volunteer. Scott turned 18 years old a few months before being taken from the Life Tabernacle Church. His mother had left the cult two years earlier and contacted the deprogrammer in hopes of bringing her son from the group.
Italy.Increasing numbers of Italians are leaving Roman Catholicism for cult organizations, according to an April report by Italy's Department of Interior Ministry. The report said, "Even in Italy, a country which is not traditionally accustomed to religious pluralism, the number of cults has grown with unexpected speed." The study was prompted by rises in cult membership associated with the upcoming Millenium. Not all the 76 new groups (with 78,500 members) which formed over the last few years, are destructive cults. But of most concern are "psychological-sects," because "These are regarded as the most dangerous...They are capable of causing complete mental breakdown in their followers."
Scientology. In Orange Park, Florida, the Town Council rejected a proclamation to honor the 48th anniversary of Dianetics, the book written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard which became the founding tenets of the Scientology organization.
Scientology. Russia's Duma, the lower house of its parliament, voted overwhelmingly to initiate investigations into alleged ties between Scientology and its new Prime Minister, Sergei Kiriyenko. While Kiriyenko denies such ties, a German newspaper alleges he has contributed financially to Scientology and attended seminars organized by Hubbard College.
Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon's group has changed plans to hold a mass wedding at an ice arena in Nagano, Japan. Although they had applied to the city of Nagano to stage a 15,000-person event, they advised the city that due to time constraints, they will now hold the mass wedding in New York sometime in June.
Other News Briefs: Headlines on the FACTNet Website
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