Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara’s 109th trial hearing Friday shifted to the alleged abduction and murder of a 68-year-old Tokyo notary public on the guru’s orders in February 1995.
The disappearance of Shinagawa Ward notary Kiyoshi Kariya is the fifth of 17 criminal cases in which Asahara stands accused to be brought before the Tokyo District Court.
Kariya’s 66-year-old sister, called as a witness by the prosecution, said Asahara deserves death, adding that she felt very sorry for her brother and his family because her connection with Aum caused the incident. Her name was withheld.
According to prosecutors, Kariya was drugged and abducted from a Tokyo street on Feb. 28, 1995, at a time when he was seeking to get his sister away from the cult and help her sever relations with Aum after it asked her to donate all her assets. Kariya was taken by several cult members to Aum’s complex in Kamikuishiki, Yamanashi Prefecture, and killed there the following day, prosecutors charge.
Previous admissions by cultists allegedly involved in Kariya’s abduction indicate he died from an overdose of an anesthetic administered as a truth serum during an interrogation and his body was later cremated. No remains were ever found.
Asahara and five other cultists were charged in September 1995 with abducting and confining Kariya, resulting in his death. Kariya’s sister said she first encountered Aum members at a cult-run yoga class, later getting involved in Aum’s religious activities.
She testified to eventually contributing 60 million yen to the cult out of fear they would hurt her brother and other relatives if she refused to comply.
When the testimony started, Asahara, who wore a blue sweat shirt, murmured for a few hours, prompting the presiding judge and his lawyers to order him to keep quiet.