Asahara unintelligible in court testimony


The Japan Times, July 19, 1999

Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara refused to testify Monday before the Tokyo District Court in a top cult figure's trial.

Yoshihiro Inoue, 29, looked depressed as the guru he had once admired murmured unintelligibly in what sounded like English.

Inoue stands accused of 10 criminal counts, including playing a role in the March 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack, which claimed 12 lives and injured thousands.

Asahara, wearing a white T-shirt and trousers, managed to state his name and birth date, but then started jabbering and refused to press his fingerprint on the paper of oath. He was removed from the courtroom in less than 30 minutes.

Judge Hiromichi Inoue asked Asahara to state why he refused to give his fingerprint, only to get incoherent babbling in reply.

Inoue's counsel, in seeking Asahara's testimony, cited the guru's remarks at the 13th session of his own trial in October 1996, when Inoue took the witness stand.

At that session, Asahara abruptly leaned out from the defendant's seat and said he had decided to take all the blame because Inoue was a great follower. However, he later in the day claimed he was innocent. Asahara stands accused of masterminding the gas attack as well as other heinous crimes.

When the presiding judge allowed Inoue to say a few words Monday to his former guru, Inoue stood and criticized Asahara for trying to escape from reality, noting this attitude was not going to save anyone.

"I beg you to retrieve your pure heart and speak the truth. You are obliged to do so," Inoue exclaimed. "Don't extend people's feelings of hatred, anger and fear anymore."

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