Asahara badgers Inoue on stand

Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara appeared restless Jan. 17 during the 22nd hearing of his murder trial, often directing his mumblings toward testifying witness Yoshihiro Inoue, a former senior Aum member.During Inoue’s testimony on his involvement in the May 1995 incident in which lethal chemicals were discovered inside a lavatory in Shinjuku Station, Asahara interrupted him and said, “He is telling a lie, obviously.”Asahara’s real name is Chizuo Matsumoto. While his lawyers cross-examined Inoue, Asahara often murmured things that were incomprehensible to those in the court gallery and was told by the presiding judge to keep quiet.Inoue, 27, Aum’s former intelligence chief, even once asked the lawyers to repeat a question, saying he found it difficult to concentrate. The judge then warned Asahara that he would be ejected if he continued mumbling.Toward the end of Inoue’s testimony, prosecutors asked him whether he was able to hear what Asahara was saying and whether his behavior was disturbing. “He (Asahara) said to me, ‘You will go to hell,’ or ‘Think about death,'” Inoue said. But he added in a firm voice that he has never been disturbed by Asahara’s words. “I only felt a sorrow which I cannot explain in words,” he said.Inoue, who has taken the witness stand six times during the trial, has detailed for the court the conversation held among senior Aum members in Asahara’s limousine two days before the March 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. He testified that Asahara ordered Hideo Murai, Aum’s science chief and Asahara’s close aide, to head the attack.Asahara’s lawyers asked Inoue on Jan. 17 whether he has been trying to put the blame on his former leader out of fear that he could be sentenced to death. As Inoue flatly denied the insinuation, Asahara mumbled, “(The testimony of) the conversation inside the limousine is not true.”