Asahara told him to kill, cultist says


Japan Times, March 10, 2000

Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara specifically ordered a former cult follower to torture and kill fellow cultist Toshio Tomita in 1994 because Asahara found out that he wanted to leave the cult, the former Aum member testified Friday.

During Asahara's hearing before the Tokyo District Court, Shigeo Sugimoto, who was considering leaving the cult at the time, said Asahara was testing his belief in the guru by ordering him to torture Tomita, whom Asahara accused of spying.

Asahara allegedly ordered four Aum members to torture Tomita in order to get a confession out of him. When Tomita denied the accusation, Asahara ordered Sugimoto to strangle him.

Sugimoto faces life in prison for the murder of Tomita and his role in the March 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo's subway system. The court will hand down its ruling on Sugimoto on July 17.


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