Kyodo (Japan), Jan. 29, 2003
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Tokyo, 29 January: Prosecutors on Wednesday [29 January] demanded the death penalty for former senior AUM Shinrikyo cultist Tomomasa Nakagawa for his alleged roles in the murders of 24 people and the sect’s sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway and in Nagano Prefecture.
They told the Tokyo District Court that Nakagawa, 40, was the man in charge of medical affairs when the cult launched the gas assault in Nagano’s Matsumoto on 27 June, 1994, which killed seven and injured 144, and was thus mainly responsible.
The former student of Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine and top aide to AUM founder Shoko Asahara has been indicted in 11 criminal cases, the second-highest after 13 implicating the former guru.
According to the indictment, Nakagawa conspired with other AUM members including the 47-year-old Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and killed 24 people in five cases.
Nakagawa is also accused of helping to carry out the gas attack on the Tokyo subway system on 20 March, 1995 and the murder of anti- AUM lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, 33, his wife and their son on 4 November, 1989.
In the Tokyo gassing, which resulted in the deaths of 12 people and injuries to thousands, Nakagawa has said he produced the sarin gas but pleaded not guilty to other charges, saying he did not know the nerve gas would be used on the subway.
But prosecutors insisted Nakagawa was told the agent would be used in the crowded underground network before he poured it into polyester bags a day ahead of the crime, and it is clear that he had intent to kill. They accused Nakagawa of trying to mislead the judges with “heaps of lies”.
Nakagawa also said he had only abetted the gassing in Matsumoto. The prosecutors, however, said his medical role in the attack was so important that it is natural to regard him as the one directly responsible.
Cultists released the gas in a residential area of Matsumoto in a bid to kill a district court judge who AUM feared would rule against it in a case, as well as to test the effect of the gas, according to the indictment.
Nakagawa also allegedly murdered fellow cult member Kotaro Ochida, 29, in Yamanashi Prefecture on 30 January, 1994, and Tadahito Hamaguchi, 28, whom AUM suspected of spying on it. Nakagawa is accused of using VX nerve gas to kill Hamaguchi in Osaka on 12 December, 1994.
In addition, Nakagawa was indicted on charges of abducting and detaining Kiyoshi Kariya, 68, head of the secretariat of a notary office in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward on 28 February, 1995. Kariya died of heart failure the following day.
He is also accused of several attempted murders using cyanide fumes, VX gas, sarin gas and a letter bomb.
Of the 11 cases, Nakagawa has pleaded guilty to murdering lawyer Sakamoto’s family and his involvement in Kariya’s death. But he has denied the other charges.
Nakagawa, a native of Okayama, joined AUM when he was a student at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine.
In October last year, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Seiichi Endo, another former senior AUM member and maker of sarin gas, to death. AUM renamed itself Aleph in January 2000.