Mainichi Daily News (Japan), July 14, 2003
Former senior AUM Shinrikyo cult member Masami Tsuchiya, who played a vital role in the cult’s production of lethal gases, should be hanged for his involvement in seven crimes including mass murder, prosecutors demanded Monday.
During a hearing held at the Tokyo District Court, a prosecutor pointed out that cult founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, masterminded the seven cases in which Tsuchiya was accused of involvement.
“In order to satisfy Matsumoto’s desires, Tsuchiya conspired with other senior cult members to move forward with the cult’s policy of justifying murders,” a prosecutor said in a closing argument.
“He not only established a method of mass-producing sarin gas but also developed chemical weapons, including poison-gas weapons, while knowing that they would be used for murder,” the prosecutor said.
Tsuchiya, 38, has admitted to his role in the cult’s production of sarin and VX, another lethal nerve gas, but denied he conspired with Asahara and other cult members.
At the same time, he clarified his loyalty to Asahara and argued that he does not think AUM carried out one of the seven cases — a deadly sarin attack in the Nagano Prefecture city of Matsumoto in 1994 that killed seven local residents.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office has charged Tsuchiya with murder, attempted murder and harboring a criminal in the seven cases. They include the sarin attack in Matsumoto and a similar attack on Tokyo subway trains in 1995 that left 12 people dead and thousands of others ill.
Tsuchiya headed the cult’s so-called “chemical team” that produced sarin and VX gas as well as other chemical weapons.
His trial has dragged on for much longer than that of other senior AUM members involved in the cult’s terrorist activities because he twice dismissed his defense teams since the court procedure opened in November 1995. Tsuchiya also refused to enter a plea on all seven charges filed against him.