Asahara OK'd cremation of cultist


Mainichi Daily News, November 11, 1999

Shoko Asahara, guru of the AUM Shinrikyo doomsday cult, on trial for murder in the 1995 Tokyo nerve gas attack, testified at court on Wednesday that he had ordered that one of cult members, who had been killed, be cremated in 1988.

Asahara, 44, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, testified as a witness in a continuance of the trial of Toru Toyoda, 31, and Shigeo Sugimoto, 40, former high-ranking members of the cult, under way at the Tokyo District Court.

Defense attorneys asked Asahara whether or not a cult member had died in September of 1988, to which he replied:

"I know a lot about this person. He was killed. When we went [to see what had happened] his pupils were already dilated," he told the court.

When asked if it were true that he had ordered the body to be burned by Kiyohide Hayakawa, 50, a former top member of the cult, he replied that cremation is customary in Japan, so "I had him incinerated."

In a previous court hearing, Asahara claimed that Yoshihiro Inoue, another senior member, proposed the sarin nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, triggering the cult to cease its activities for the time being.


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