A senior Aum Shinrikyo figure testified Friday that he doubted the sarin the cult produced was potent enough to be lethal when he was given bags containing the liquid nerve gas the day before the March 1995 Tokyo subway attack.

Testifying for the prosecution in the trial of Aum founder Shoko Asahara, Yasuo Hayashi, 40, claimed that when he was ordered to spread the gas two days before the attack, he had doubts that the cult was able to easily make sarin.

Hayashi stands accused of being one of five cultists who released sarin on the rush-hour subway cars, killing 12 people and injuring over 3,800. The guru is charged with being the mastermind of the attack. “I did not think they (sarin bags) were dangerous enough to kill people,” he claimed when asked by Asahara’s lawyers about his feelings when he was given the sarin.

Hayashi also stands accused of taking part in the June 1994 sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, that claimed seven lives and injured hundreds, and the foiled May 1995 gas attack at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station.

In earlier testimony, Hayashi said he participated in the subway attack out of fear that he would be punished if he disobeyed orders, which he understood to have come from Asahara.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.