Aum cult doctor admits making sarin nerve gas
Wednesday 25 October 1995
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.
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: The race is on to help thousands trapped under rubble around Kathmandu, while remote villages face a long wait for help
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...