Prosecutors on Wednesday demanded the death sentence for Tomomasa Nakagawa, a former Aum Shinrikyo senior member accused of involvement in numerous crimes, including the 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system.
Lawyers for Nakagawa will give their closing arguments May 12, and the Tokyo District Court is expected to rule on the case in the fall.
During their closing arguments at the court, prosecutors charged that Nakagawa, 40, played a crucial role in a series of Aum crimes.
Nakagawa’s 11 counts are second only to Aum founder Shoko Asahara, who is accused of being the mastermind in 13 cases involving the cult.
According to the indictment, Nakagawa conspired with other Aum members including Asahara, 47, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and is responsible for the murders of a total of 24 people in five cases.
Nakagawa stands accused of his role in the sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system March 20, 1995, a sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on June 27, 1994, and the murder of Yokohama-based lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, 33, his wife and their son Nov. 4, 1989.
Nakagawa also allegedly took part in the murders of fellow cult member Kotaro Ochida, 29, in Yamanashi Prefecture on Jan. 30, 1994, and company employee Tadahito Hamaguchi, 28, who the cult suspected of being a spy. Nakagawa allegedly used VX nerve gas to kill Hamaguchi in Osaka on Dec. 12, 1994.
In the Tokyo subway attack, 12 people were killed and thousands were injured. Seven people were killed and 144 injured in the sarin attack in Matsumoto.
In addition, Nakagawa was indicted for allegedly abducting and detaining Kiyoshi Kariya, 68, head of the secretariat of a Tokyo notary office on Feb. 28, 1995. The following day, Kariya died from an overdose of an anesthetic used by the cult members as a truth serum.
Nakagawa is also accused of committing several attempted murders using cyanide fumes, VX gas, sarin gas and a letter bomb.
Of the 11 cases, Nakagawa has pleaded guilty to the charges of murdering lawyer Sakamoto’s family and his involvement in Kariya’s death.
He has denied his involvement in the other cases.
Regarding the subway case, Nakagawa has said he produced sarin but insisted that he did not know the nerve gas would be used in an attack on the subway.
But the prosecutors insisted Nakagawa was told the agent would be used in the crowded underground network before he poured it into polyester bags a day ahead of the crime, and it is clear that he had intent to kill. They accused Nakagawa of trying to mislead the judges with “heaps of lies.”
The prosecutors also argued the sarin attacks would not have happened if Nakagawa did not produce the gas, and that he had played an important role in the indiscriminate mass killings.
Nakagawa has said he had only abetted the gassing in Matsumoto. The prosecutors, however, said his medical role in the attack was so important that it is natural to regard him as the one directly responsible.
Nakagawa, a native of Okayama, joined Aum when he was a student at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine. He once worked as a medical intern.
In October, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Seiichi Endo, another former senior Aum member and maker of sarin gas, to death.
Nine Aum members who were involved in crimes committed by the cult have been sentenced to death by district courts, while two members have been given life sentences. Asahara is still on trial.
Aum has renamed itself Aleph.
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