Asahara continues antics in court

Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara mumbled throughout his 27th hearing Feb. 27 as police testified about their investigation into the 1989 murder of a Yokohama lawyer and his family.

Asahara, 41, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, made gestures with his hands as if explaining something, and spoke almost incomprehensibly to the gallery at the Tokyo District Court, once asking why he was not allowed to enter a plea. Other comments were incomprehensible or not loud enough to be heard by reporters. His left middle finger was wrapped in a white bandage.

Asahara was ejected from the courtroom twice earlier this month after repeatedly interrupting the hearings with unruly behavior. His defense council has asked the court for planned hearings in March and April to be canceled because Asahara has refused to meet with them.

One of the investigators, summoned as a prosecution witness, said he examined the apartment of Tsutsumi Sakamoto, a Yokohama lawyer representing parents of Aum followers, on Nov. 8 and 9, 1989, just after he mysteriously disappeared with his wife and infant son. The lawyer’s mother handed the investigator a badge that had been found inside the apartment, the investigator said. The logo on the badge was later determined to Aum’s.