2020-05-27 21:23:00

Trial of Aum Shinrikyo's Russian cell head begins in Rostov-on-Don

Rostov-on-Don, May 27, Interfax - The Southern District Military Court based in Rostov-on-Don has started hearing the criminal case against the head of the Russian cell of the Aum Shinrikyo terrorist community (banned in Russia), Mikhail Ustyantsev, the court's press service said on Wednesday.

"The trial in the criminal case against Mikhail Ustyantsev has begun. The court will begin questioning the aggrieved party tomorrow," it said.

Ustyantsev was detained in Volgograd, where meetings of the members of the cell had also taken place, the press service said.

It was reported earlier that FSB officers had suppressed Ustyantsev's activities while he was organizing a latest gathering of the cell members on May 1, 2018, and that he was arrested afterward.

Ustyantsev was charged with setting up a terrorist community, organizing the activities of a terrorist organization, creating a religious or social organization whose work is contingent on violence against citizens or other harm to their health, as well as heading such community.

According to the investigators, Ustyantsev headed the Russian cell of Aum Shinrikyo, whose activities are banned in accordance with a decision of the Russian Supreme Court.

He organized the circulation among residents of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Volgograd of a religious doctrine "encouraging regular adepts to give him money, which he passed to the Japanese leaders of the terrorist community Aum Shinrikyo, thus financing terrorism."

Ustyantsev's accomplices were declared wanted.

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.