Death sentence for ex-AUM member does not solve lawyer family's murder mystery.
(Mainichi Japan) November 19, 2011
The death sentence handed to former AUM Shinrikyo member Tomomasa Nakagawa does not solve the murder mystery of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto and his family, lawyers close to Sakamoto said at a press conference following Nakagawa's rejected appeal by the Supreme Court on Nov. 18.
"The trial may be over but the mystery is not solved. We frankly don't want the public to forget why Sakamoto and his family were killed, and the action he was taking," said Shuichi Kojima, 56, from his Yokohama Law Office, where the late Sakamoto was employed prior to his murder.
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the murder of Sakamoto, his wife and infant son, who were strangled and suffocated by several AUM members, including Nakagawa, who served as a doctor to AUM leader Shoko Asahara. Sakamoto had been preparing for a lawsuit against the AUM group prior to his murder in November 1989.
"Sakamoto was a sincere man and lawyer," Kojima said during the press conference, remembering how the two often spent time together as colleagues and friends. "The AUM members were focused only on him, even though he worked against them with two other lawyers. I regret not warning him to act in cooperation with others," Kojima added.
"I was furious with Nakagawa when the crime was revealed. Now, I only hope that he will live with the memory for the rest of his life," commented another fellow lawyer.
Nakagawa, 49, was sentenced to death over a series of crimes, including the murder of the Sakamoto family and the group's deadly 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system. In his initial conviction, the Tokyo District Court handed down the death penalty for the "antisocial and lack of respect for human life" nature of his crimes, but Sakamoto's friends still wonder about the details that led to the murder.
"Nakagawa became a doctor to save lives, didn't he? Up to some point in his life he was the same as Sakamoto," said Hisashi Okada, 66, a former senior to Sakamoto, who attended Nakagawa's trials. "Everything is still an unsolved mystery," Okada added, although he admitted noticing that over time Nakagawa's attitude has changed and he began showing remorse.
Sakamoto's former colleagues annually visit the three prefectures where the lawyer and his family's bodies were found -- Tsutsumi in Niigata, his wife in Toyama, and their baby son in Nagano. This year, Tsutsumi's 80-year old mother, Sachiyo, also joined them.
"I have now become 80. I wanted to visit the place one more time in my life," she said.
Ex-senior AUM member Nakagawa
appeals against death sentence
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
TOKYO — Former senior AUM Shinrikyo member Tomomasa Nakagawa on Tuesday appealed to the Supreme Court against the death sentence handed down to him for his involvement in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and other crimes.
On July 13, the Tokyo High Court upheld the death sentence for the 44-year-old Nakagawa, saying it "has found no particular reason to refrain from giving the death penalty even though the defendant has shown remorse and offered an apology." (Kyodo News)
Death penalty on AUM's Nakagawa upheld at high court
Sunday, July 15, 2007
TOKYO — The Tokyo High Court upheld Friday a lower court's death sentence against former senior AUM Shinrikyo member Tomomasa Nakagawa who was convicted of involvement in the killings of 25 people in various criminal cases from 1989 to 1995, including the cult's sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway and in Nagano Prefecture.
Presiding Judge Ritsuro Uemura, in turning down an appeal from Nakagawa, 44, a former physician, said the three-judge panel "has found no particular reason to refrain from the death penalty...in light of such ultimately heinous crimes that saw the number of victims reach as many as 25, even though the defendant has shown remorse and offered an apology."
Nakagawa was convicted of his involvement in the Tokyo subway gassing March 20, 1995, that killed 12 people and injured thousands, and was found guilty of being involved in an earlier gassing that killed seven people in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on June 27, 1994.
He was also found guilty of his involvement in the November 1989 murder of anti-AUM lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, his wife and their son.
Nakagawa was the last to receive a high court decision, among the 13 AUM members who had been sentenced to death at the district court.
All the death sentences on the 13 were upheld at the high court level.
Of the 13, excluding Nakagawa, 10 have appealed to the Supreme Court. The death sentences on AUM founder Shoko Asahara and former senior member Kazuaki Okazaki have been finalized.
In September last year, the Supreme Court threw out an appeal filed by Asahara's defense counsel.
Nakagawa, found guilty of all criminal counts involving 11 criminal cases, ranks second to Asahara in terms of the number of criminal cases in which he was involved. Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was implicated in 13 criminal cases.
Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for Nakagawa.
AUM renamed itself Aleph in 2000. In May this year, followers of former AUM Shinrikyo spokesman Fumihiro Joyu organized a splinter group, called "Hikari no Wa" (circle of light). (Kyodo News)