Final Tokyo gas attack fugitive indicted

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iol pic wld Katsuya Takahashi

AFP

This undated hand out combo picture, taken off a security camera shows a man believed to be Katsuya Takahashi, a former member of Japan's Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult who was wanted in connection with the 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

Japanese prosecutors on Friday indicted the final suspect to be captured over the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway, which killed 13 people and injured thousands.

Tokyo Prosecutors' Office said in a statement it had charged Katsuya Takahashi, a 54-year-old former member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult, with murder and other crimes.

The indictment came after police captured Takahashi on June 15, bringing to an end the hunt for those thought to be behind the coordinated release of Nazi-developed sarin, an incident that sowed panic throughout the capital.

Police now plan to level additional charges against him, including in relation to an explosive that was sent to then-Tokyo governor Yukio Aoshima in 1995, injuring a Tokyo government official, Jiji Press said.

A high-profile manhunt for Takahashi had been under way in and around the capital since the arrest of Naoko Kikuchi, 40, another ex-member of the cult, in early June.

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

Takahashi, a one-time guard for Aum guru Shoko Asahara, allegedly served as a driver when the cult's members released the gas in the subway system.

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

He 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 12 other cult members. – Sapa-AFP


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