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The defense counsel for Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara on Oct. 2 cross-examined an Aum figure who stands accused of taking part in the 1989 murders of a Yokohama lawyer and his family.Satoru Hashimoto, 30, appeared before the Tokyo District Court at Asahara’s 51st trial hearing. He has admitted taking part in the killings of Tsutsumi Sakamoto, the attorney’s wife and their 1-year-old son. The slayings were believed carried out by five cultists in November 1989.As in his previous appearance before the court, Hashimoto readily testified about his involvement in the murder of the lawyer, as well as the events that followed the killing of the family. But he refused to testify about his role in the murders of the wife and son, saying he was not prepared.The defense cited the court testimony and interrogation reports of other cultists, urging Hashimoto to recall minute details of the murders. They even asked him which cultist exited the vehicle first upon returning to the cult’s headquarters after the killers allegedly put the slain family in their vehicle.The lawyers also asked detailed questions about how the five disposed of the victims. The three corpses were found in 1995 at separate mountain locations, in Nigata, Toyama and Nagano prefectures.On several occasions, prosecutors objected that the defense was stretching the cross-examination too far. But chief defense attorney Osamu Watanabe overruled them, saying the defense team was trying to correct the inaccuracies in each cultist’s recollection of the events.During a courtroom tiff, Asahara once raised his voice and mumbled in an unintelligible manner.

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