Japan cult plotters sentenced in Russia

Three Russians with links to the outlawed Japanese sect, Aum Shinrikyo, have been given jail sentences for plotting to bomb Japanese cities.

A court in the Russian city of Vladivostok sentenced the three men to prison terms ranging from four-and-a-half to eight years.

A fourth defendant was given a suspended sentence and a fifth was deemed insane and sent to a mental hospital.

Investigators said the men had planned to attack public places in Tokyo and Aomori in a bid to force the Japanese authorities to free the leaders of the Aum sect.

The group carried out a sarin gas attack in the Tokyo underground in 1995 in which 12 people died and thousands were injured.

The sect's leader, Asahara, has been awaiting trial since 1995.