A former Aum Shinrikyo member allegedly involved in making a device used in the June 1994 sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, testified Friday he was unaware the cult was going to use the machine to spread the deadly nerve agent.

Testifying for the prosecution at the Tokyo District Court in the trial of Aum founder Shoko Asahara, Kozo Fujinaga, 37, said he thought something dangerous was going to be spread with the device but that he did not know it would be sarin.

Fujinaga, who is also on trial for his alleged participation in the attack, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in connection with the Matsumoto incident in both the district and high court rulings; he is appealing both rulings.

Asahara’s lawyers conducted a detailed cross-examination on a wide number of areas, including Fujinaga’s reasons for joining Aum, but prosecutors voiced several objections, claiming the questions did not relate to subjects the prosecutors had asked about earlier.

At one point, the 12 state-appointed lawyers stopped the proceedings and said the prosecutors were trying to interfere with the lawyers’ cross-examination.

On the other hand, apparently irritated by the lawyers’ meticulous questioning, presiding Judge Fumihiro Abe sometimes interrupted the group and urged them to refrain from asking overly detailed questions. He also occasionally ordered Asahara to stay awake and listen attentively.

In the 86th session of Asahara’s trial, which is crawling along at a snail’s pace, the atmosphere in the courtroom was often dull. In the afternoon, about half of the 100 or so gallery seats, including those for the press, were empty.

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