#Ongoing trial of former Aum Shinrikyo Russian members: Dmitri Sigachev and others

December 16th, 2001

(1) Details within our knowledge

<1> In March of 2001, Joyu and Matsuo, members of Aleph, received emails from former Aum Shinrikyo Russian followers. In the emails they reported that a former Aum Shinrikyo Russian follower named Sigachev was likely to have committed a crime and they asked us to persuade him to keep away from crimes. At this point, we started contacting Dmitri Sigachev.

<2> In April of 2000, Matsuo and other Aleph members flew in Czech Republic, where they met with Sigachev and tried to dissuade him everyday for fortnight. They questioned him about his rumored involvement in the acts of theft and arms purchase, including a plot to get back former Aum Shinrikyo leader Shoko Asahara who is under police custody in Japan. Sigachev responded in a very much incoherent way, giving them an impression of insanity, sufficient enough to make them feel that he might have uttered meaningless words from illusion.

Having confessed to diverting Mr. I*'s money to his own purpose, Sigachev insisted that he spent it primarily for investing in trading with Japan and that the weapons he had bought were through lawful procedures and only intended for self-protection. As he knew, he said, that engaging in unlawful activities were not Mr. Asahara's intension, he promised to discard the weapons. As for the rumored plot to rescue Mr. Asahara, however, they could not know how much he meant it because what he said changed so often.
(* Mr. I was a former high-profile member of Aum Shinrikyo. Please refer to his comment here)

No matter whatever Sigachev urged, they did not stop discouraging him from committing crimes throughout the meetings and at the last moment they managed to have him swear in writing with his signature to give up the idea of resorting to unlawful activities as follow:

"I, Shuten Myo-o, understand that all Seitaishis and Seigoshi at Aum Shinrikyo, or Aleph, in Japan are against illegal activities. I shall not do any illegal activities, based on what I was told by those attainers at Aum. 2000 13/IV Dmitry Sigachev/Shuten Myo-o/"

<3> In the meantime, we emailed to former Aum Shinrikyo Russian followers including Sigachev never to engage in unlawful activities. Also we sent to them a message that they should make their utmost effort to settle the Sigachev problem on their side as well. Please refer to some of the emails in the Appendix below.

<4> After a while, other former Russian followers in Vladivostok, Russia, who was acting along with Sigachev to get information informed us that he did not change the way he thinks at all and had a hidden intension to outsmart us. They then informed FSB or former KGB in Vladivostok, they said, of Sigachev 's illegal purchasing of weapons etc. In response to this, the authorities undertook an investigation and put Sigachev's group under their surveillance.

<5> Coming back from Czeck Republic, Matsuo tried to keep in touch with Sigachev by email with an intention to continue dissuasion. His trials however mostly did not work. During the course, he received an email from Sigachev, saying that they were not members of Aleph.

<6> In June of 2001, a former Aum Shinrikyo follower in Russia who was familiar with Sigachev group's activities informed us of their planning to come to Japan. In response to this we requested police and immigration control authorities to reject his entering Japan.

(1)Joyu informed the public security authorities that a former Aum Shinrikyo Russian follower who seemed to approve the idea of resorting to crimes was likely to enter Japan soon. Also he requested the authorities concerned to reject his entrance into Japan and to watch out his behaviors. (At this moment, the rumor of Sigachev's past crime and their plot to rescuing Mr. Asahara was still to be confirmed and therefore Joyu had to avoid specifying details.)

(2) Matsuo and other Aleph members went to the Immigration Control Office in Niigata (the largest city along the coast of the Japan Sea where Sigachev was most likely to enter) and requested for the rejection of Sigachev's entrance into Japan. The officers in charge, however, mistook Matsuo as saying that they came all the way to keep some foreigners off Japan. They put Matsuo and the others under their surveillance and questioned them closely; while allowing Sigachev to enter Japan as if he had nothing suspicious or illegal about himself.

(3) As far as we know, the MPD's Public Safety Department responded to our request and sent officers to Niigata. While trailing him from his entrance, they questioned Sigachev for many times. As a result of their effort in persistent persuasion, Sigachev went out of Japan in three days. In the meantime, Aleph members kept watching Sigachev with vigilance.

<7> After returning to Russia, Sigachev was arrested by the Russian police authority, which was worked on assiduously by former Russian followers.
Sigachev's entry into Japan triggered the former Russian followers' action upon the police. They reported about his group to the police over and over again and, once the police mobilized, they cooperated with them in the investigation.
In July, we were informed that the Russian police arrested Sigachev and his fellows and found weapons with them.

<8> Since it first reported to the Japan's Security Authorities, Aleph has been providing and exchanging necessary information concerning Sigachev's group. Aleph will be providing relevant information when necessity arises.

<9> On Sigachev's arrest, we requested to the Immigration Control Department of Justice Ministry through the Public Security Investigation Agency for banning the reentrance of his group members. This request was accepted.
* Those who were wanted by the Russian authorities on this case were by now all in custody of the police. If found guilty, they are very likely to be sentenced to long-term imprisonment. So in reality the chances that they will enter Japan again is very small and at least at this moment there is no danger of this kind at all.

<10> In this summer we were requested an interview for evidence to support the investigation by the Russian authority through the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Although we are not suspects, since we have been requested for cooperation by the MDP, we had an interview and handed in a written report.

<11> Since this fall, to prevent repetition of the incident, Japanese followers of Aleph have been staying in Russia to guide and instruct former Russian followers according to the Aleph's platform that it disapproves of any members engaging in any unlawful activities and cooperates in compensating for damages caused by Aum Shinrikyo-related incidents. We included the account of our guidance activity in Russia in a regular report submitted to the Public Security Investigation Agency.

<12> During the testimony of his trial sessions in Russia, Sigachev said that he, on his own decision, had diverted Mr. I's money for business into the crime. This proved Mr. I and Aleph innocent of this case.

<13> Aleph is always ready to offer testimony in the trial sessions. We, together with the former Russian followers who reported Sigachev's group to the authorities, are considering testifying in their trial sessions to back up the evidence to this case, to change their ways of thinking and thus to help them feel sorry for what they did. We are currently exchanging opinions with Russian authorities on this matter.

(2) Aleph's comment

As it has explained above, Aleph had nothing to do with this case at all. Nor did it even know that Mr. I, a former Aum Shinrikyo high-profile member, invested in Russia. However, after it knew what happened, Aleph took every possible preventive measure such as dissuading Sigachev and also cooperating with investigative authorities both in Japan and in Russia.

It is our deep regret that former Aum Shinrikyo Russian followers committed a crime like this. We also feel sorry that although we knew Sigachev was entering Japan, we not only failed to prevent him, but were suspected to the contrary.

As it has already stated many times, Aleph heartily disapproves of any crimes including forcefully rescuing Mr. Asahara and terror attacks.

From now on, with its remaining influence over former Russian followers of Aum Shinrikyo, Aleph is determined to make this policy well understood and followed by them and to strengthen its cooperation with investigative and judicial authorities to prevent the repetition of the crimes.

Last, but not lease, Aleph expresses its deep gratitude to former Russian followers of Aum Shinrikyo and investigative authorities on both Russia and Japan sides for their assiduous efforts in solving the matter.

Appendix: Information from Mr. I, former high-ranking member of Aum Shinrikyo

*Mr. I, who is not a member of Aleph and only keeps in touch with some of us privately, requested us to provide the following information in the press conference.

Let me explain how I came to invest into Russia. When I had to be financially on my own for reasons related to my family, there was a business opportunity with Mr. D, a former Russian member of Aum Shinrikyo. I met him and his colleague Sigachev in a country other than Japan and Russia and made an investment. In March of 2000, when I heard from Mr. D that Sigachev had diverted my invested finance to crimes, I soon reported this to Aleph and emailed to Sigachev to oppose committing crimes.

In those days, as I had to be financially on my own very quickly, I was pressed by the situation where no job was available for a former Aum Shinrikyo leader like me and ended up investing into Russia. I feel very sorry for the consequences. Because I trusted Mr. D, I did not suspect Sigachev at all for that matter. Much less did I imagine that things would end up like this.

I am also sorry for causing trouble to those who contributed their finance to me. They did not even know that I invested their donation into Russia.

I do not approve of Sigachev's unlawful activities and nor was I involved in it at all. This is being proved by the testimonies of Sigachev and others in their recent trial sessions as well as in the investigation by the Russian authorities.

Lastly, I think the Russian authorities have confiscated the money left after diversion. I want to utilize it as a token of my innocence, for compensation to the victims and bereaved family members in the Aum Shinrikyo-related incidents.