(RNS) A leader of the Aum Shinri Kyo sect in Japan was freed fromprison Wednesday (Dec. 29) and vowed to resume his place in the doomsdaypreaching group that is accused of a deadly nerve gas attack on theTokyo subway system five years ago.

Fumihiro Joyu is one of the highest-ranking members of Aum and oneof its only leaders not charged with a role in the 1995 subway gassing,the Associated Press reported.

Virtually all of the groups former leaders, including guru ShokoAsahara, are currently on trial or in prison. Joyu is expected to fill aleadership vacuum within the still potentially powerful group.

"I intend to return (to Aum), but as I have just been released fromprison, I am completely unaware of the situation around me, and at thispoint therefore have no comment to make," Joyu said in a statement.

Joyu was arrested in 1997 for forgery and perjury in connection witha land deal made by the group and sentenced to three years in prison.

Aum is believed to have 2,000 followers throughout the country.

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