Defense counsel for Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara cross-examined a senior cult figure Oct. 16 about his part in the killings of an anti-Aum lawyer, trying to disprove his contention he was simply following Asahara’s orders.Kazuaki Okazaki, 37, one of six cultists accused of slaying Tsutsumi Sakamoto, the attorney’s wife and their son in November 1989, appeared at Asahara’s trial hearing for the first time in three months.Okazaki reiterated that when he was summoned to Asahara’s room on the night of Nov. 2 that year, it was his understanding that his assignment was just to find out where Sakamoto lived and to go along as a driver — not to get involved in the actual killings.The initial plan was for the lawyer to be knocked down on a street on his way home from work Nov. 3 and injected with a lethal chemical, Okazaki said. When the cultists found out the Sakamoto family was at home that day, Asahara ordered his disciples to break into the apartment and kill the wife as well as their son, he said.When the plan changed, however, nobody was given specific orders on how to kill the family, Okazaki testified. At one point, a lawyer for Asahara asked Okazaki why he had gone to the family’s apartment earlier that night to check if the door was locked. “The fact that you went all the way over to the house and checked if it was locked shows your readiness beyond (Asahara’s) orders, doesn’t it?” the lawyer asked.The defense pressed the witness to recount tiny details, including whether the apartment’s lights were on before and after the murders, and how each member got into the family’s bedroom. Okazaki often replied that he did not remember.At a news conference after the hearing, Asahara’s lead attorney, Osamu Watanabe, said Okazaki’s testimony was becoming hazy. Interrogation reports by prosecutors have much more specific and detailed references on his and others’ involvement in the crimes, Watanabe said.Asahara mumbled as Okazaki entered the courtroom and at one point during the morning session, he was heard saying, “Cut it out!” while Okazaki detailed his actions during the Sakamoto murders.
The Asahara Trial: Counsel takes aim at Okazaki testimony