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Toshiyasu Ouchi, a former Aum Shinrikyo fugitive charged with murder in connection with the 1989 slaying of a cultist, denied being a party to the killing Thursday at his first trial hearing before the Tokyo District Court.Ouchi, 46, who at one time headed the cult’s Russian branch, was deported from Cyprus in April. He had been on an international wanted list in connection with the February 1989 slaying of cultist Shuji Taguchi, 21, who had tried to leave Aum.Ouchi admitted, however, that he conspired with other cultists to cremate another cultist, who is believed to have died in June 1993 during training that involved him being bound by rope and hung upside down from the ceiling.Ouchi and the other cultists allegedly cremated the body in a microwave-charged incinerator at an Aum facility in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture. The remains were never found.Arraigned before the court, the former head of the cult’s Russian branch admitted cremating the corpse but denied involvement in Taguchi’s lynching. “I was just standing watch outside the container (where the murder was committed),” he said.The Russian government had ordered Ouchi to leave the country in March. The following month, he was taken into custody at a tourist resort on Cyprus.

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