Tomomasa Nakagawa once a top leader in the doomsday cult Aum led by Shoko Asahara apologized publicly at the conclusion of his trial for murder, reports Mainichi Daily.

He said, “I’ve been disqualified as a human being, as a doctor and as a religionist.” And admitted, “Mr. Asahara murdered a large number of people. I devoted myself to supporting him. I apologize to those affected by the crimes.”

But Nakagawa’s recognition of the cult’s criminal behavior comes too late. Twelve people are dead. And it is unlikely the Aum leader will escape death himself, as a penalty for his role in this tragedy.

As is often the case regarding the violent crimes of a criminal cult, undue influence and/or diminished mental capacity, which is often sensationally called “brainwashing” does not excuse a crime.

Most frequently a cult member’s apology will not mitigate sentencing.

Despite the fact that Aum members themselves may have been victims of Asahara’s manipulation and madness, the people they murdered and their families remain as the most important victims and the definitive ones to determine sentencing.

The prosecution is acutely sensitive and attentive to those cult victims.

Prosecutors and surviving family members have repeatedly called for the death penalty, which is uncommon in Japan.


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