Kyodo (Japan), May 12, 2003
Tokyo, 12 May: Defence lawyers for former senior Aum Shinrikyo cult member Tomomasa Nakagawa urged the Tokyo District Court on Monday [12 May] not to sentence him to death if it finds him guilty of involvement in the killings of 24 people in 11 cases, including the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack.
In his final statement, Nakagawa, 40, said, “As a human being, a doctor and a religious person, I was a failure. I apologize for everything in my life.”
The defence team told the court in its closing arguments that Nakagawa was under the mind control of Aum founder Shoko Asahara in all the criminal cases alleged by the prosecutors. The court said it will hand down a ruling 29 October.
In January, the prosecutors demanded the court hand down a death sentence.
The former medical intern who graduated from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine and top aide to Asahara has been indicted in 11 criminal cases, the second-highest after 13 involving the 48- year-old former guru.
According to the indictment, he was involved in the cases between November 1989 and May 1995, including the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, which killed 12 people and injured over 5,000, and the 1994 sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, which killed seven and injured 144.
On the Tokyo subway attack, the defence claimed Nakagawa was innocent, saying, “He did not know (sarin gas) would be used in the subway and was only involved in making the sarin under the instructions of the group’s senior officials. There was no malice aforethought nor conspiracy.”
Regarding the Matsumoto attack, in which the prosecutors claim Nakagawa was mainly responsible, the defence said, “He had no murderous intent towards the residents and thought that sarin was not poisonous.”
Nakagawa has admitted to allegations of his involvement in the murder of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, who was helping people with complaints against Aum, and his family in 1989. But the defence said it is questionable whether he was capable of being held liable as his actions were being controlled by Asahara at the time.
Nine other members of Aum, which renamed itself Aleph in 2000, have been sentenced to death for crimes committed by the cult. All have appealed to higher courts. Meanwhile, the ruling for Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is expected to be handed down early next year after his defence makes closing arguments in October.