TOKYO — Accusing the police of religious persecution, cult members yesterday mourned one of their leaders, whose public slaying left Japan wondering what could happen next.
Hideo Murai, 36, the second-ranking leader of the cult, Aum Shinri Kuo, or Supreme Truth, was fatally stabbed Sunday night by a right-wing extremist apparently angry over the gas attack March 20 in the Tokyo subways. Officials suspect the cult of carrying out the attack.
Murai, head of the cult’s chemical research division, had appeared on television almost daily to deny that the group had ever produced sarin, the gas that killed 12 people and sickened 5,500 in Tokyo’s subways.
He and other cult members insist the group had nothing to do with the gas or the near-fatal shooting of Japan’s police chief 10 days later.