A former doctor for Aum Shinrikyo, currently serving a life sentence, testified for the defense Friday at the trial of the cult’s former intelligence chief, Yoshihiro Inoue.

Ikuo Hayashi was found guilty of committing mass murder in May in the March 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system as well as five other crimes. Although no longer a member of the cult, Hayashi, 51, told the court how serious he and other followers were while practicing Shoko Asahara’s teachings to become spiritually enlightened.

In a gray working uniform, Hayashi told the defense team that during his days with the cult he believed Asahara was practicing religion with a pure heart. He added that it was frightening to have doubts about the guru’s words because at the time Asahara’s words seemed to derive from religious grounds. “Considering the sorrow of the victims and their families I know I’m not in a position to say this, but it’s extremely difficult to stand up against someone who you really believe from deep down in your heart,” he said with tears.

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