Final Tokyo gas attack fugitive held

2012-06-15 08:24
AP

AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tokyo - Police in Japan on Friday arrested the final fugitive from the religious cult that launched deadly nerve gas attacks on Tokyo's subway in 1995, media said.

The capture of Katsuya Takahashi brings to an end a police hunt for those behind the co-ordinated release of Nazi-developed sarin, an incident that killed 13 people, injured thousands and sowed panic throughout the capital.

"Tokyo Metropolitan Police confirmed the identity of the man as Katsuya Takahashi by using finger prints and other information," broadcaster NHK reported.

Takahashi, aged 54, was detained near a comic book cafe in southern Tokyo, it said.

Jiji Press later confirmed Takahashi had been formally arrested on suspicion of murder and other charges.

A huge manhunt had been under way in and around the capital since the arrest less than two weeks ago of Naoko Kikuchi, aged 40, a former member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult.

Evaded capture


Both Kikuchi and Takahashi had been on the run for more than 17 years following the release of sarin on Tokyo's heaving underground system, an attack that formed part of a doomsday vision by the cult's founder.

Despite posters showing their faces being displayed at nearly every train station in Japan, Takahashi, Kikuchi and fellow fugitive Makoto Hirata long evaded capture.

Hirata, aged 47, gave himself up at a police station in central Tokyo minutes before midnight on last New Year's Eve.

He is suspected of being part of a plot to kidnap and confine the brother of an Aum follower who had escaped from the cult in February 1995, a month before the subway gas attack.

On 3 June, police arrested Kikuchi, who stands accused of being involved in the production of the sarin.

The subsequent police probe showed that until recently she had been in close contact with Takahashi, and that he had been living in Kawasaki city south of Tokyo.

Security camera footage


Over the last few days police had ramped up their hunt for Japan's most wanted man, with officers regularly patrolling transport hubs.

They have also fed broadcasters an almost daily diet of security camera footage, giving glimpses of a man they said was Takahashi as he sought to flee.

The Aum cult was also responsible for an attack on the city of Matsumoto in central Japan in 1994, when sarin - which Saddam Hussein deployed against the Kurds in northern Iraq in 1988 - killed eight people.

The cult was led by Shoko Asahara, a partially blind guru who preached a blend of Buddhist and Hindu dogma mixed with apocalyptic messages, and developed an obsession with sarin gas, becoming paranoid that his enemies would attack him with it.

According to prosecutors, the cult wanted to disrupt police moves to crack down on them and at the same time enact Asahara's vision of an apocalyptic war.

Asahara was arrested at a commune near Mount Fuji two months after the attack on Tokyo and sentenced to hang, having been convicted of crimes resulting in multiple deaths. He remains on death row, along with 11 others.

The guru used a mix of charisma, mysticism and raw power to commit one of Japan's most shocking crimes with his disciples, who included doctors and engineers educated at elite Japanese institutions.

Police declined to confirm the reports of Takahashi's arrest to AFP.

Read more on:    japan

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.