National / Crime & Legal

Relatives, victims of Aum attacks to join trial of cult's former member

Kyodo

Family of victims in a series of violent crimes carried out by the Aum Shinrikyo cult will take part in the trial of former member Katsuya Takahashi, which is scheduled to start Jan. 16 at the Tokyo District Court, the victims’ relatives said Wednesday.

Among them is Shizue Takahashi, 67, whose 50-year-old husband, Kazumasa, died in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. Kazumasa was a deputy station master at Kasumigaseki Station.

Also participating in the trial will be Minoru Kariya, 54, whose father was kidnapped and murdered by Aum, and Hiroyuki Nagaoka, 76, whom cult members attempted to kill by spraying him with VX nerve gas. Nagaoka recovered but still suffers from the aftereffects of the attack.

The participants will sit together with prosecutors and will be allowed to question the defendant and give their opinions on the penalty sought by prosecutors.

Takahashi is charged with murder in the cult’s deadly sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995, which killed 13 people and injured more than 6,000 others.

A panel of three professional and six citizen judges is expected to hand down a ruling on the defendant in April after 39 rounds of hearings.

The district court plans to hear witness testimony in the trial from six Aum members on death row.

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