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Former senior Aum Shinrikyo member Seiichi Endo claimed Friday that he did not know sarin could kill people when he and several other cultists released the nerve gas in 1994 in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, killing seven locals.

“I was shocked when I heard that people died from the attack,” said Endo, a biologist, at a hearing in the trial of cult founder Shoko Asahara before the Tokyo District Court.

Asahara’s lawyers said they believe Endo understated his knowledge of the gas. Endo, 38, refused to go into details over the issue, saying he has not finished discussing the matter with his lawyer.

Endo added that he was shocked that Masami Tsuchiya, Aum’s chemical chief who produced the sarin, seemed glad to learn that the gas attack succeeded when Endo returned to a cult facility in Kamikuishiki, Yamanashi Prefecture, after the attack. “Tsuchiya said he was sure everything would turn out well when he learned that several people died from the attack,” Endo said.

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