TOKYO, Feb 23 (Reuters) Fusako Shigenobu, founder of the leftist Japanese Red Army group, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Tokyo court today for attempted murder and masterminding a 1974 attack on the French embassy in The Hague.
The Tokyo District Court handed down the ruling on Shigenobu, 60, known as the ''empress'' for her leadership of one of the world's most notorious radical groups.
Prosecutors had demanded a life sentence for Shigenobu in connection with the attack on the embassy in the Dutch capital, in which the French ambassador was taken hostage by militants who demanded the release of an imprisoned comrade.
She was arrested in late 2000 outside a hotel in Osaka, western Japan, after eluding police across three continents for more than 25 years.
Shigenobu, originally a member of another leftist group, the Red Army Faction, travelled to Lebanon in 1971 and founded the Japanese Red Army, which linked up with Palestinian radicals to become an implacable foe of Israel.
The group turned into one of the world's most feared guerilla organisations for its deadly and spectacular acts, from plane hijackings to hostage-taking, mostly in the 1970s.
Among its actions was a 1972 attack on Israel's Lod Airport in Tel Aviv in which 26 people, including two Red Army members, were killed in a hail of machine-gun fire and grenade blasts.
After bombing a U.S. military facility in Naples, Italy, in 1988, the group conducted no more major attacks and faded from view in Japan.
REUTERS CS SP0946