Cultist says he could not defy 'poa' order

Japan Times, August 3, 1999

A former key member of Aum Shinrikyo said Friday he had doubts about killing a fellow cultist in 1989 but acted upon the order from Shoko Asahara because he was not in a position to defy the guru.

Kazuaki Okazaki, 39, was testifying before the Tokyo District Court in Asahara's 129th trial session.

Okazaki said the guru ordered him and three other cultists to "poa" Shuji Taguchi because Taguchi was trying to flee from the cult and had said he would try to kill Asahara. In the cult's jargon, "poa" meant to kill. Asahara gave the order because Taguchi knew that another cult member had been killed several months earlier, and he feared that Taguchi would make that public if he left the cult, Okazaki said.

Okazaki was answering questions from Asahara's defense lawyers. "I was shocked to hear (the order to kill)," Okazaki said. "I wondered why the discussion (among Asahara and key members) would lead this way." According to prosecutors, Okazaki and three other cult members confined Taguchi to a cell, bound his hands and legs, blindfolded him with a towel and then strangled him with a rope.

Okazaki was sentenced to death last year over his role in the 1989 murder of an anti-Aum lawyer. He is appealing the decision to the Tokyo High Court.

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