Monday March 2 8:17 AM PST Aum's Dr. Hayashi faces life term for sarin attack Prosecutors Monday demanded that Dr. Ikuo Hayashi, one of five Aum Shinrikyo figures accused of releasing nerve gas on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995, be sentenced to life in prison. The March 20 attack killed 12 and injured some 3,800. The recommended punishment for Hayashi -- the first defendant facing sentencing for directly carrying out the sarin attack -- is expected to affect the fate of other 13 cultists accused of taking part in gas attacks allegedly ordered by Aum founder Shoko Asahara, who is still on trial. Prosecutors judged that Hayashi does not deserve the death penalty because he readily confessed to the attack and has been repentant since his April 1995 arrest. At the Tokyo District Court, prosecutors castigated Hayashi for his liability in the "indiscriminate mass killing." "In terms of his criminal liability, capital punishment would be appropriate for the defendant," they said in a statement read before the court. "As a doctor, he must have known thoroughly about the deadly effects of the gas and the importance of human life. The defendant instead used such knowledge for the crimes," the statement said. "However, we hesitate to demand the death penalty," it continued. "We regard the defendant's confession about the gassing as his surrender in this case." Hayashi's confession, which came before the connection between the cult and the gas attack had been thoroughly established, expedited the police probe and significantly helped investigators grasp the whole picture of the cult, they told the court. Hayashi, 51, the cult's one-time chief doctor, was arrested in April 1995 for harboring a cult fugitive. On May 6, 1995, he suddenly told an investigator he was one of those who spread the nerve gas on the subway. Prosecutors also said he has expressed to survivors and victims' families his "sincere and deep remorse" over his acts. Hayashi has testified as a witness in court hearings for 21 other former Aum defendants, at which he detailed his role in the gassing and urged them to tell the truth. For Monday's session, Hayashi arrived at the Tokyo District Court at 10:02 a.m., his eyes swollen and teary. He wiped his eyes for about two minutes before gaining his composure, while prosecutors and his lawyer exchanged additional evidence with the judges. At 10:05 a.m., he stood on the witness stand to undergo his last session of questioning by his lawyer. Hayashi said he has read "Underground" -- accounts of the Tokyo gas attack survivors and the relatives of the deceased, written by best-selling author Haruki Murakami -- three times. As his lawyer asked what made him read the book repeatedly, he said, "Who else should read that book if I don't?"
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