Former Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Yasuo Hayashi admitted in court June 26 that he released nerve gas in a Tokyo subway car in March 1995, saying he could not refuse orders he believed were issued by cult founder Shoko Asahara.
Hayashi, 39, admitted in the first session of his trial at the Tokyo District Court that he was also involved in the deadly June 1994 sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and the foiled May 1995 cyanide gas attack at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. He said he helped manufacture a device used to release sarin in a Matsumoto neighborhood, but claimed he was unaware beforehand that the device was to be used for the attack.
A key figure in Aum’s science team, Hayashi said he became involved in the crimes at the direction of other Aum senior members, but it was his understanding that the orders came from Asahara. “I was thus not able to oppose the orders,” Hayashi said. “But regardless of the reason, I committed grave crimes, harmed many people and caused chaos in society,” Hayashi said in a prepared statement. “I deeply regret my stupid actions.”
Hayashi was the last fugitive believed to be directly involved in the subway attack. He was arrested in December on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture after 18 months on the run. Ishigaki is about 300 km southwest of the main island of Okinawa.