People victimized by Aum Shinrikyo’s crimes voiced relief Friday that cult founder Shoko Asahara would pay for the deaths of 27 people with his own life.
But they also expressed frustration that the eight-year trial failed to present the whole picture of the cult’s unprecedented crimes due to the guru’s silence. They also reiterated their call for state compensation to the survivors, their families and the next of kin of the victims, who still suffer from the damage caused by the crimes.
Shizue Takahashi, who lost her husband, Kazumasa, in the 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system, told a news conference after the ruling that she was relieved Asahara had received the death sentence.
“I cannot stand seeing any chance of Matsumoto being released,” she said. “I think everyone (who has called for lighter punishment) should have attended Matsumoto’s trial to see his insincere attitude” throughout the trial.
Takahashi attended 126 trial sessions, including Friday’s ruling. Asahara’s defense team has said it will appeal.
Takahashi said she hopes the court will use psychiatric tests and other methods to shed light on the mysteries surrounding the cult that the district court failed to explain, such as why Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, attracted so many followers, including highly educated people.
A 44-year-old man whose 40-year-old sister was left paralyzed by the subway attack said he wanted no sentence other than death. “Considering that many victims died in pain without knowing what had happened, the death penalty is not enough for Matsumoto,” he said.
He said at least Asahara will know that his death is approaching. He said he also felt a sense of futility because capital punishment cannot ease his family’s suffering.
The government has refused to offer compensation or provide special public assistance to the victims of the attack. But the man said the government should take steps so that people like his sister can live alone, in case her family can no longer shoulder the burden.
“My sister is a victim of a crime against the state, and in this sense, the government is responsible to look after my sister in case she must live alone,” he said.