Doctor convicted in subway gassing sentenced to life in prison

TOKYO (AP) — A doomsday cult member convicted of murder escaped the death penalty Tuesday for his role in the worst act of terrorism in modern-day Japan.
Ikuo Hayashi was sentenced to life in prison in the March 1995 nerve gas attack that killed 12 people on Tokyo’s subways. Hayashi, 51, will be eligible for parole in 20 years.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Megumi Yamamuro said Hayashi was criminally responsible for his actions but had shown remorse. Expressions of regret are critical in Japanese court rulings, which are decided by a panel of judges.
Hayashi, a heart surgeon, was the first senior member of the Aum Shinri Kyo, or Supreme Truth cult, to be sentenced in the attack, which shocked a nation that had taken safety on the streets for granted.
He was among cult members accused of carrying plastic bags of sarin gas onto morning rush-hour trains, then poking the bags with sharpened umbrellas. People collapsed on the platforms, bleeding from their mouths and noses. Thousands were sickened; some remain disabled.
The cult’s guru, 43-year-old Shoko Asahara, is being tried on charges of masterminding the attack, apparently part of his plan for a global war that would leave him ruling the world.
Relatives of the victims criticized Tuesday’s sentence.
“Hayashi will never taste the suffering my father endured,” Minoru Kariya, the son of a notary clerk who died, was quoted as saying by the newspaper Mainichi.