Ex-cultist admits to ’89 Japan murders

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TOKYO — A former top member of the cult accused in last year’s subway gas attack admitted in court yesterday to murdering a lawyer and his family in 1989.

Tomomasa Nakagawa pleaded guilty to charges he joined five other Sublime Truth cult members in the attack on Tsutsumi Sakamoto, his wife and infant son, newspaper and TV reports said.

Sakamoto had been leading a legal crusade against the cult. Sublime Truth is blamed for the March 1995 attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and sickened thousands.

Court officials would not confirm the guilty plea, which was widely reported here.

Prosecutors had said the group, acting on the orders of cult guru Shoko Asahara, entered the Sakamotos’ home in Yokohama and strangled the family.

The link between the Sakamotos’ disappearance and the cult went largely uninvestigated until after the subway attack. The family’s remains were discovered in September, buried in remote mountain locations in central Japan.

Nakagawa earlier admitted to taking part in another poison gas attack by the cult. The earlier attack on a residential neighborhood in Matsumoto killed seven people and injured more than 140 in June 1994.

Another cult follower testified yesterday that Asahara wanted to disguise the odor of the lethal nerve gas sarin with a floral scent, the national newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Kayako Sasaki, a 29-year-old cult official, was testifying before Tokyo District Court judges trying to determine how deeply the cult’s chief chemist, Masami Tsuchiya, was involved in sarin production.

According to the Yomiuri, Sasaki said Tsuchiya told her of the plans for floral-scented sarin in December 1993. Asahara wanted fragrance added so that victims would more readily inhale it, but scented sarin turned out not to be feasible.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Associated Press, via the Boston Globe, USA
mar. 13, 1996

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This post was last updated: Nov. 17, 2014