Aum cult doctor admits making sarin nerve gas - World - News - The Independent

Aum cult doctor admits making sarin nerve gas

RICHARD LLOYD PARRY

Tokyo

Thousands of people, including several hundred journalists, gathered outside a Tokyo court yesterday as the first defendant in the subway nerve gas attack went on trial for murder. Tomomasa Nakagawa, a senior member of the Aum Shinri Kyo doomsday cult, admitted manufacturing the type of sarin nerve gas used in the attack.

The central trial, that of the Aum guru, Shoko Asahara, which is due to begin tomorrow, was thrown into doubt earlier in the week after his lawyer, Shoji Yokoyama, was involved in a car accident. Although he suffered only minor injuries, Mr Yokoyama was ordered to spend two weeks in bed, provoking suspicions that the cult was trying to delay the trial. However, court officials confirmed the lawyer will attend, and that the most sensational trial in Japan's recent history will go ahead.

Several Aum members have already been sentenced on lesser indictments but yesterday's charges against Dr Nakagawa, Asahara's personal doctor, were the first to touch directly on the sarin killings. For the first time, prosecutors described in detail the events leading to the attack, which killed 11 people and injured thousands of others on 20 March.

Dr Nakagawa, 32, pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder, but admitted manufacturing the deadly gas at the personal request of his leader and former patient. "Asahara ordered the production of sarin in mid-March," he told the Tokyo District Court. "It is not incorrect to say that I produced the sarin, and sealed the liquid in plastic bags. I knew sarin was a dangerous chemical, but I was not aware of any conspiracy to release it."

Asahara tried to plunge the central part of Tokyo into "utter turmoil" to head off police raids, the prosecutor, Tadahiko Miyazaki, told the three judges. The attack was aimed at police investigating the disappearance of a Tokyo man believed to have been abducted by Aum in February. The cult learned of police plans to raid its commune on the slopes of Mt Fuji, and on the night of 19 March a team lead by Dr Nakagawa produced the liquid sarin in the laboratories.

Five kilograms were sealed into polythene bags which were carried onto subway trains the following morning. As the trains converged on Kasumigaseki station, yards from the National Police Agency, government ministries and the Tokyo District Court, the bags were pierced with sharpened umbrellas.

Dr Nakagawa admitted strangling an Aum follower who was accused of treachery by Asahara, but said that he did so to release him from agony, when he was on the verge of death. Like Asahara, he faces the death penalty if convicted, although the trial could last two years.

News
Residents of James Turner Street such as White Dee will have a chance to share their experiences of benefits on a Channel 4 spin-off show
peopleBenefits Street star says mixed-race children were subjected to trolling
Sport
Angel Di Maria
Football
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
film
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
News
newsIn short, yes
Extras
indybest
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Life and Style
Jourdan Dunn gave TopShop’s Unique show some added glamour at London Fashion Week
fashion week
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Job opportunity for a nursery nurse...

McAfee Security Engineer

£42000 - £48000 per annum + Site allowance: Ashdown Group: McAfee EPO Speciali...

English Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Experience...

Higher Level Teaching Assistants in Bradford and West Leeds

£65 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are currently seeking Higher L...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories