Aum Shinrikyo attacked Hiroyuki Nagaoka, head of an anti-Aum group, with VX gas in January 1995 because he was "interfering" with Aum's "practice of truth," a key cult figure testified Friday.
At the time, members of the Aum Shinrikyo Victims' Association, including Nagaoka and his son, were talking cultists into leaving the cult, Yoshihiro Inoue said during a Tokyo District Court session in the trial of cult leader Shoko Asahara.
Nagaoka helped persuade one lay cultist, whom Asahara was planning to appoint as a key member of the sect's household agency, to leave Aum, Inoue said.
"Asahara was outraged when he heard this," said Inoue, the former chief of the cult's intelligence section.
If the cult attacked Nagaoka, Inoue said, Aum would be the first one blamed. Inoue said that he took the risk, however, and ordered the attack because Asahara was so angry.
Six members of Aum allegedly attempted to kill Nagaoka by spraying him with VX gas outside his Tokyo home on Jan. 4, 1995.
Inoue, also on trial, could face the death penalty if convicted. The crimes for which he is standing trial include the March 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. The court is scheduled to pass sentence on June 6.
On Thursday, Inoue said in Asahara's trial that when he learned a cultist he and other followers attacked with VX in 1994 had died, he was too preoccupied with his cult duties for the weight of the crime to sink in.
Inoue told the court that although the killing of Tadahito Hamaguchi was a serious matter, all he could do was follow the orders given by Asahara and continue his work as the cult's intelligence chief.|
"All I could do at the time was finish the piles of work I had before me; my life at the time was not reasonable," he claimed.
Inoue and the other cult followers, allegedly on Asahara's orders, carried out the VX attack on Hamaguchi because they suspected he was a spy for the Public Security Investigation Agency.
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