Exchange marks trial of cultist in Japan

TOKYO — Asked whether he had ordered disciples to carry out a nerve gas attack in 1994, the cult leader Shoko Asahara raised his voice and repeated his answer four times: “I have nothing to say!”

Asahara’s sharp exchange with a judge punctuated the session yesterday, which dealt with an attack that killed seven people. The trial also charges Asahara in a deadlier nerve-gassing in Tokyo nine months later.

The trial of Asahara, 41, on charges of masterminding both attacks and several other murders, began April 24. Its third session was yesterday.

Asked about the June 1994 nerve gas attack in the central town of Matsumoto, Asahara said: “I have nothing to say here.”

“What do you mean?” asked one judge.

“I will not enter a plea at this point,” Asahara said.

When the judge persisted, Asahara raised his voice and said four times: “I have nothing to say!”

Later, Asahara appeared to doze off as prosecutors read from a long statement detailing their case against him.

Prosecutors said that in the Matsumoto attack, Asahara’s Aum Shinri Kyo cult targeted judges who were staying in a courthouse dormitory while hearing a case involving the cult. They also said the cult wanted to test the effectiveness of the sarin nerve gas it had stockpiled.


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Associated Press, via the Boston Globe, USA
May 24, 1996
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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday May 24, 1996.
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