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One-time Aum Shinrikyo lawyer Yoshinobu Aoyama testified as a prosecution witness March 12 in the trial of Aum founder Shoko Asahara, claiming he never considered Tsutsumi Sakamoto, an anti-Aum lawyer believed murdered by cultists, an obstacle to Aum.

Aoyama said he had no idea why Sakamoto, his wife and 1-year-old son were killed on Nov. 4, 1989. Asahara stands accused of ordering six cultists to carry out the killings. The guru’s defense lawyers questioned Aoyama’s earlier testimony that he, along with senior cultists Fumihiro Joyu and Kiyohide Hayakawa, met with Sakamoto on Oct. 31, 1989, and discussed complaints from the parents of some Aum followers in an amicable atmosphere. The parents had sought Sakamoto’s help in getting their offspring out of the cult.

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