A survivor of the March 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo’s subways by the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult told a Tokyo District Court session on Thursday that the cult’s founder should be sentenced to death for the crime.
The 67-year-old man, testifying as a witness in the trial of Aum founder Shoko Asahara, said all others responsible for the attack — which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000 — also deserve to be executed.
It was the first time a victim of the incident has testified publicly about his feelings at Asahara’s trial.
“I feel indignation that people who were on their way to work early to avoid the morning rush hour were indiscriminately killed or injured,” the man said.
At about 8 a.m. on March 20, 1995, the man was on a train on the Hibiya Line when he noticed a clear liquid leaking from the edge of a folded newspaper on the floor, he said.
He leaned down to look closer and unwittingly inhaled the sarin gas, which had been spread around the train by Toru Toyoda, 33, formerly a senior member of the cult.
When asked by prosecutors how he feels when he remembers the incident, the man said, “I was terrified to see people who were in convulsions and groaning on the platform.”
The man, who was ill for two months after the attack, said he still suffers from weakened eyesight and a sluggish sensation in his lower body as a result of the sarin gas.
Toyoda was sentenced to death in July by the district court, along with fellow former Aum member Kenichi Hirose.
Another former member, Shigeo Sugimoto, was sentenced to life imprisonment for driving the getaway vehicle used in the attack.
All three appealed their convictions to the Tokyo High Court.
Two other assailants in the 1995 attack, Masato Yokoyama and Yasuo Hayashi, both former senior members, also received death sentences from the local court, while Ikuo Hayashi, a former doctor at an Aum-affiliated hospital, was given a life sentence as he showed remorse for his actions and turned himself in to the police.
Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, has been indicted on a total of 13 charges, including those related to a 1994 sarin gas attack on judges’ official residences in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.
He is also accused of the 1989 triple murder of Tsutsumi Sakamoto, a lawyer who opposed Aum, his wife Satoko, and their 1-year-old son, Tatsuhiko.
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