The defense team for Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara cross-examined on July 3 a former cultist who has confessed to being involved in the murder of an anti-Aum lawyer and his family.
Kazuaki Okazaki, 36, one of the original members of Aum, detailed the activities and structure of the cult in the late 1980s during Asahara’s six-hour trial session. Prosecutors objected several times, saying questions by the defense were too detailed. But defense lawyers insisted they needed to clarify how the cult was organized, including its method of making decisions, as well as to check the credibility of Okazaki’s testimony for the state.
Okazaki fled Aum a few months after Yokohama lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, the attorney’s wife and their baby son disappeared from their home in November 1989. They were allegedly killed by cultists at that time. Sakamoto was representing parents who wanted to help their children leave Aum.
Okazaki and five other cult followers allegedly killed the family in conspiracy with Asahara. Asahara, 42, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, often disrupted the session by speaking incoherently and was ordered by the judge to be quiet.