A senior Aum Shinrikyo figure expressed his disgust at prosecutors during his guru’s murder trial Thursday, claiming he was repeatedly forced to change his testimony during investigations to fit the state’s portrayal of events leading up to the sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.Satoru Hashimoto, 31, known for his mastery of martial arts, was testifying in the trial of cult founder Shoko Asahara.Hashimoto is also standing trial for murder and attempted murder in connection with the deadly Matsumoto nerve gas attack in June 1994, and the November 1989 slayings of an anti-Aum lawyer and his family.Hashimoto testified that on the day of the Matsumoto attack, he drove a van mounted with a sarin-spraying device to the site, but denied that seven cultists whom he said were involved had planned the attack well beforehand.Throughout the morning trial session, Hashimoto stressed that he had not been informed of his tasks in advance, and that he did not even know he would be ordered to drive the van until the day before. He added that he perceived the attack merely as a prank, and that he thought the sarin would cause nothing more than a runny nose.The prosecutor apparently was trying to prove that Hashimoto and other cultists premeditated the attack, and as he pressed on, Hashimoto fumed, saying he was not pleased with the questioning by the prosecution. “I am really distrustful of prosecutors, and the feeling of helplessness (I have with them) is still with me,” he said.When asked by a prosecutor why he smoked a cigarette on that day in a nearby parking lot, he claimed it was simply “to vent his frustration over (other cultists’) refusal to let him eat something” earlier in the day. Aum members are not allowed to smoke.Hashimoto countered the prosecution’s contention that he smoked the cigarette to check the direction of the wind ahead of the attack.
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