Shoko Asahara, founder of the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, was ordered out of a courtroom Monday because he refused to put his fingerprint on a written oath after being called as a witness in the trial of one of his former disciples.
Asahara, 44, appeared before the Tokyo District Court as a defense witness for Yasuo Hayashi, 41, a senior cult figure on trial for his alleged role in the deadly March 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system, the 1994 sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and the foiled May 1995 cyanide gas attack at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.
In the process of completing the written oath, Asahara, wearing a dark blue sweat suit, gave his name, age, occupation and address in a low voice or by nodding to inquiries by presiding Judge Kiyoshi Kimura.
A court official read the oath on behalf of Asahara, who has poor vision. But the guru refused to make a print of his left index finger on the written oath when ordered to do so.
Although lawyers for Hayashi, a former fugitive who was arrested in December 1996, and prosecutors tried to persuade Asahara to give his fingerprint and testify, Asahara responded by babbling incoherently.
The presiding judge ordered him from the courtroom at around 10:40 a.m.