herald

Friday 24 November 2017

Fugitive surrenders 17 years after gas attack

A member of the doomsday cult behind a deadly Tokyo subway gas attack and other crimes has turned himself in to police after 17 years on the run.

Makoto Hirata, a member of Aum Shinrikyo, conspired with several other members in kidnapping a notary official in 1995 and causing his death, said a Tokyo metropolitan police official.

The victim, Kiyoshi Kariya, then 68, was the brother of a follower trying to quit the group. Hirata (46) who had been on the run since the summer of 1995, turned himself in at a Tokyo police station and was detained early yesterday morning.

The cult also released sarin nerve gas in Tokyo's subway system in 1995, killing 13 people and injuring more than 6,000 in Japan's deadliest act of domestic terrorism.

It had amassed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons in anticipation of an apocalyptic showdown with the government.

Police say Hirata and other cult members kidnapped Kariya in a Tokyo street and confined him at the group's tightly guarded commune at the foot of Mount Fuji.

They allegedly used anaesthetics on Kariya to get him to talk about his sister, who escaped from the group after being pressed to donate her land. Kariya died from a drug overdose, police said.

According to court testimony, cult members burned Kariya's body in an incinerator inside the commune and disposed of the ashes in a nearby lake to destroy the evidence.

Public broadcaster NHK said Hirata told police he wanted to "put the past behind him". Hirata told police he only drove Kariya to the cult compound and denied other allegations.

He was one of the last three wanted cult members. The two others are still on the run.

hnews@herald.ie

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