Police hunt fugitive in Tokyo gas attack

2012-06-08 14:04

Tokyo - Thousands of police were mobilised on Friday to hunt for the last fugitive suspected in a doomsday cult's deadly nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway 17 years ago.

About 5 000 officers fanned out across the Tokyo area to hand out fresh photos of the fugitive, Katsuya Takahashi, and monitor transportation hubs to keep him from escaping the capital.

Takahashi, aged 54, is on Japan's most wanted list for his suspected role in the attack, which killed 13 people and injured more than 6 000.

The long-cold search took a major step forward earlier this year when a key fugitive turned himself in. That led to Sunday's arrest of another suspect, leaving only Takahashi.

Police caught him on a security camera trying to withdraw money from a bank shortly after the second fugitive was arrested, and believe he has been hiding out in the Tokyo area under a false name.

Nearly 200 members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult have been convicted in the gas attack and dozens of other crimes. Thirteen, including cult guru Shoko Asahara, are on death row.

Makoto Hirata, charged in a 1995 cult-related kidnapping-murder as well as the subway attack, surrendered to police on New Year's Eve, stunning the nation.

The cult, renamed Aleph, once had 10 000 members in Japan and claimed another 30 000 in Russia. It still has hundreds of members. The cult is under police surveillance and its new leaders have publicly disavowed Asahara.

  • Antin - 2012-06-08 20:49

    Amateur doomsday chemists. So fortunately they were clueless about the stability and other probs there are in the making, storing and distributing of sarin. It's reported they carried litres of the stuff. That's impossible. Would have been enough to kill hundreds in a subway, even if poorly distributed. (Theoretically it could have killed many tens of thousands.) Taking into account the relative high volatility of sarin, and the ratio of fatalities versus the number of hospitalized, it must have been seriously degraded by the time of attack Still thirteen dead too many. Why are these evil dogs still on death-row? Out of bullets or rope in Japan?

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