AUM senior member apologizes at conclusion of trial

The trial of former AUM Shinrikyo senior member Tomomasa Nakagawa concluded Monday after he apologized for his involvement in a series of crimes committed by the cult including the Tokyo subway gassing that killed 12 people.

"I've been disqualified as a human being, as a doctor and as a religionist," Nakagawa, 40, told the Tokyo District Court. "Mr. (cult founder and former leader Shoko) Asahara murdered a large number of people. I devoted myself to supporting him. I apologize to those affected by the crimes."

The court is set to hand down a ruling on Nakagawa on Oct. 29. Prosecutors are demanding the death penalty for Nakagawa for his involvement in 11 crimes masterminded by Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.

The crimes he was accused of having been involved in include a sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway trains in 1995 that killed 12 people and sickened thousands of others and the murder of anti-AUM lawyer Tsutumi Sakamoto, his wife and their infant son in 1989.

The defense counsel for Nakagawa asked for leniency during the last hearing Monday on the grounds that he did not play a leading role in the crimes and that he was nearly insane at the time. The lawyer added that Nakagawa had no choice but to carry out the crimes on the orders of Asahara.

Prosecutors countered that Nakagawa, as a high-ranking member of the cult, played an important role in these crimes