The Asahara Trial: Scientist recounts sarin deaths

The people who were killed in the Tokyo subway nerve gas attack were poisoned by high-density sarin, a National Police Agency scientist reiterated June 5 in the trial of Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara.

At Asahara’s 39th trial session, Yasuo Seto, who was a member of the agency’s scientist team that examined blood samples from the victims in the 1995 subway attack, said his team judged that cause of death was sarin because the levels of cholinesterase, an enzyme controlling nerves, in the blood was remarkably reduced due to absorption of the poison. Asked by Asahara’s lawyers about the lethal doses of sarin, Seto said, “It depends on how the nerve gas is taken into the body, but generally, it is said that a lethal dose is about 10 mg.”

As has often been the case during his trial, Asahara, 42, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, mumbled in his seat, sometimes in English. The presiding judge ordered him to be quiet numerous times. During the cross-examination, Asahara occasionally napped. He grumbled to presiding Judge Fumihiro Abe, the witness and guards sitting beside him and stood silently at least seven times, prompting court officers to force him to sit down.