A senior Aum Shinrikyo follower on April 24 expressed resentment toward cult founder Shoko Asahara for appointing him, along with others, to release deadly nerve gas in the Tokyo subway system in March 1995.
“Asahara often intentionally gave painful duties to members who were negative (toward the cult). And I know he did not value me positively,” said Yasuo Hayashi, 40, formerly with the cult’s so-called science and technology ministry, during Asahara’s trial before the Tokyo District Court.
But later, he confessed: “I cannot make any excuses because I believed in the dirty (teaching), which was based on ignorance.”
The subway nerve gas attack killed 12 people and injured 3,794. During the hearing, which marked the second anniversary of the start of Asahara’s trial, defense lawyers cross-examined Hayashi, challenging him over his testimony’s inconsistencies with those of other cult members.
When asked whether he was present during the April 1996 shooting of National Police Agency chief Takaji Kunimatsu in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward, Hayashi said: “I was with another cult member in Kawagoe, where we used to live. I was not at the site (when the shooting took place).”
The defense team nevertheless continued questioning Hayashi on how he spent the day, claiming former cultist Toshiyuki Kosugi, who confessed to the shooting, said Hayashi was at the site waiting for him to finish the job.
Kosugi was a member of the metropolitan police force when he made the confession, which did not lead to his arrest because the pistol used in the ambush that he claimed he threw into the Kanda River was never found.
This was the third time Hayashi has taken the stand during Asahara’s trial.
Inconsistencies with the testimony of Aum intelligence chief Yoshihiro Inoue on the events leading up to the subway attack were also questioned. “Judging from the circumstances, some of Inoue’s testimony does not make sense,” Hayashi argued.
Asked what he thought of one-time Aum spokesman Fumihiro Joyu, the cult’s No. 2 figure after Asahara, Hayashi said Joyu is “a man with many different sides.”
“He was a person who could point out the shortcomings of Asahara’s orders,” he said, but added he never saw the two talk together privately.
Hayashi is standing trial for his alleged involvement in the deadly March 1995 subway nerve gas attack in Tokyo, the June 1994 sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and the foiled May 1995 cyanide gas attack at JR Shinjuku Station. He has admitted being involved in all three crimes.
In the two years since Asahara’s trial began on April 24, 1996, over 50 witnesses — including cult members, doctors and investigators — have taken the stand.
“The trial will continue for at least seven more years if it continues at this pace,” a prosecution official said. “The lawyers should stop using cross-examination as a means of delaying deliberations.”
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