Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara on Wednesday told the Tokyo District Court that he ordered cult members to manufacture 1,000 automatic rifles.
Asahara was testifying during a session of the murder trial for former senior cult members Toru Toyoda and Shigeo Sugimoto.
Toyoda stands accused of being involved in the March 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, while Sugimoto is accused of involvement in the killing of cult follower Kotaro Ochida in January 1994.
“I gave the orders,” Asahara said of the rifle program, “but the purpose (of the weapons) was not to murder people. It was meant to deepen the disciples’ understanding of me.”
Asahara also said he ordered followers to secretly cremate fellow Aum member Teruyuki Majima, who died in 1988.
In September of that year, Aum members accidentally killed Majima by repeatedly dunking him in water during “religious training,” prosecutors alleged, adding that Asahara ordered cult members to secretly cremate his body in an incinerator at an Aum complex.
At the end of the session, Sugimoto, who listened to Asahara’s testimony, criticized his former leader for not apologizing to the victims of the crimes that Aum committed.
“If you are the ultimate emancipator, you should know more than anyone about the agony and sorrow of the victims,” Sugimoto told the court. “What you are doing is trying to escape from reality.”
Following Sugimoto’s speech, Toyoda called on Aum members in the public gallery not to repeat their mistakes by putting their belief in Asahara.
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