Testimony by former senior members of Aum Shinrikyo contradicts the prosecution’s version of the cult’s alleged crimes, the defense team for Aum founder Shoko Asahara said Thursday.
“The foundations of the prosecution’s argument have been shaken by its own witnesses,” the defense lawyers said in a statement presented during the 90th hearing of Asahara’s trial at the Tokyo District Court.
They demanded that the prosecution correct its earlier court statements to specify when, how and why Asahara ordered the alleged crimes.
Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, has been accused of masterminding crimes including the sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in June 1994, the gassing of a Tokyo subway in March 1995 and the murders of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, his wife and child.
The lawyers said testimony by former Aum lawyer Yoshinobu Aoyama contradicts the prosecution’s argument that Asahara ordered the Matsumoto attack because he resented losing a civil suit over a restraining order placed on construction of a cult facility in the city.
Aoyama had testified in earlier court appearances that Asahara appeared not to care about the cult’s loss in the suit.
They also touched on the slaying of Sakamoto, 33, who was a Yokohama lawyer representing parents of cultists seeking to get their kids out of Aum. The lawyers said according to testimony by senior cultist Kiyohida Hayakawa, the decision to kill Sakamoto and his family was made at the scene, not on direct orders from Asahara.
The defense team also asked the court not to recognize testimony by police lab scientists who identified the poisonous substance at the site of sarin attacks, arguing that their research was sloppy and tainted by preconceptions.
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