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2014年3月 9日 (日)

オウム事件判決 凶行を厳しく指弾した裁判員

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 08, 2014
Lay judges hand down tough ruling on Aum member’s horrible criminal acts
オウム事件判決 凶行を厳しく指弾した裁判員(3月8日付・読売社説)

Lay judges have handed down a stern decision on the heinous criminal acts committed by a former member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult.

Makoto Hirata, a former senior member of Aum, was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday by the Tokyo District Court. Hirata, 48, surrendered to police in late 2011 after nearly 17 years on the run.

The Hirata case represents the first in which lay judges took part in an Aum-related court trial.

The court determined he was involved in all three cases for which he was indicted, including the abduction of Kiyoshi Kariya, the chief of the Meguro public notary office in Tokyo, and the bombing of the entrance to a Tokyo condominium.

Nineteen years have already passed since both incidents occurred in 1995. The ruling can be said to be the result of careful efforts by the lay judges to cross-check a great deal of testimony and examine it all amid a situation in which many witnesses found it difficult to recall the events.

Hirata denied part of the charges, saying he was not informed of the kidnapping plan beforehand.

But based on testimony by a former cult leader, who gave a detailed account of his instructions to Hirata, the court concluded the defendant’s assertions “could not be trusted.”

The kidnapping of Kariya, who was later killed while he was confined at a cult facility, was an organized, premeditated act, and Hirata’s long years as a fugitive made society anxious. These things were weighed heavily, leading to the severe sentence of nine years in prison. This was quite a convincing judgment.

Death-row inmates testify

Three death-row inmates who were involved in the kidnapping case testified at court hearings, an extremely rare practice.

One of the three was Tomomasa Nakagawa, who gave a detailed account of the circumstances in which Kariya was abducted. The testimony given by Nakagawa and the other condemned criminals at public hearings was considered significant in helping to unravel the entire picture of the kidnapping.

The Hirata trial represented the first case in which a crime victim was permitted to take part in court hearings. Kariya’s eldest son said he could “perceive the feelings of the defendant” through direct questioning of Hirata at a court hearing. We appreciate that the significance of the system allowing victim participation, which was introduced in 2008, has been reconfirmed.

In a series of criminal acts committed by Aum members, including sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system, 29 people were killed and more than 6,000 others sickened and injured. Like Hirata, many cult followers were involved in the crimes at the orders of cult founder and guru Chizuo Matsumoto, who is also on death row.

The cult remains active after splitting into two groups: Aleph and Hikari no Wa. Young people who have no direct knowledge of Aum-related crimes are said to have become followers of the cult. The Public Security Investigation Agency and other organizations need to keep tight oversight on the cult.

In a news conference after the court’s ruling Friday, one of the lay judges described an impression of interacting with the former cult members at the court, saying: “I felt my mind become frozen. I thought Aum was a really dreadful organization.”

The series of Aum-related incidents should not fade into oblivion. The latest trial must be used to reexamine what the cult did.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 8, 2014)
(2014年3月8日02時02分  読売新聞)


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