Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Apr. 10, 2003
Angry families of people who died in the 1995 Tokyo subway gassings carried out by AUM-Shinrikyo cult members heaped abuse at cult guru Shoko Asahara and demanded the death sentence for him Thursday at the 253rd hearing of his trial.
Testifying at the Tokyo District Court under the revised code of criminal procedure, families accused Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, of directing subordinates in the AUM-Shinrikyo cult to carry out the sarin gas attacks on Tokyo’s subways that killed 12 and injured thousands.
One 64-year-old woman whose husband was killed in the gas attacks was first to testify. “My husband, who had a strong sense of justice and cared for his family, was killed unjustly. Yet over a period of eight years the defendant has not admitted his guilt, and blames the incident on his subordinates,” she said. “I cannot forgive him.”
Speaking to Asahara from behind a partition, she said he deserved the death penalty. “You stole our humble happiness and I cannot forgive you,” she said. “You have laid the blame for the crime on your followers, Asahara, you’ll get the death penalty.”
Another woman, Shizue Takahashi, 56, the wife of a subway worker who was killed, blasted Asahara for not speaking up at his hearings.
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“If he thinks he will be deified by not speaking he’s greatly mistaken,” Takahashi said. “I want him to talk about the incident for the benefit of both victims and followers (of AUM).”
Others said they wanted to punish Asahara themselves. “Almost nine years have passed since the incident, and I cannot express the pain I have felt during this time,” said Fusae Kobayashi, whose son perished in the attacks. “I would like to use these hands of mine to dish out to the defendant the same pain that he inflicted on my son and others.”
Asahara has remained largely silent at the hearings of his trials, ignoring questions presented to him and failing to cooperate with his own lawyers.
Prosecutors are expected to demand a sentence for Asahara on April 24, after questioning him in three trials but failing to obtain any response from him.
Several members of the AUM Shinrikyo cult, which is now calling itself Aleph, have already received death and prison sentences.