Former Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Yasuo Hayashi told the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday that he was driven to spread deadly sarin gas on the Tokyo subway in March 1995 out of fear of what would happen if he refused.

Summoned by prosecutors to testify at the 24th hearing for senior cult member Tomomitsu Niimi, the 39-year-old Hayashi confessed that he felt reluctant when he first heard the order to spread sarin through Tokyo’s subway system but accepted it out of fear of the consequences if he refused. According to Hayashi, Hideo Murai, the cult’s late science chief who brought the order to Hayashi and other members, did say they could reject it if they wanted to.

“But I thought he was cruel to say so knowing that we could never do that,” he said. After giving detailed accounts of the attack, including how he punctured plastic bags containing sarin on a Hibiya Line subway car, Hayashi expressed regret toward the eight people he allegedly killed and showed determination to disclose as much accurate information as possible on the crimes he took part in through the cult.

“If I lie to my heart, I will end up separating myself from my essential nature and eventually fall into darkness,” he said. Hayashi, who was arrested last December after 18 months on the run, admitted in court in June he was involved in the Tokyo subway attack, the June 1994 sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and the foiled May 1995 cyanide gas attack in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station. Niimi, 33, Aum’s former home affairs chief, continued meditating and chanting to himself in the dock.

Niimi has refused to enter a plea on his felony charges involving eight cases, including the Tokyo subway attack and the slaying of anti-Aum lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto and his family, and pleaded not guilty to three cases, including the murder of two cult followers.

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