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Japanese cult member arrested after 17 years on the run

Hirata was arrested on suspicion of abduction and confinement resulting in death: Metropolitan Police.

Written by Agencies | Tokyo | Published: January 1, 2012 2:31:45 pm

After 17 years on the run,a key member of a doomsday cult behind a deadly Tokyo subway sarin gas attack in 1995 and other crimes has been arrested after he surrendered,police said today.

Makoto Hirata,46,a prominent member of the AUM Shinrikyo cult turned himself in to police early today and was arrested,Tokyo Police said.

Hirata had been on a wanted list since May 1995,was immediately arrested on suspicion of involvement in a conspiracy with AUM founder Shoko Asahara and other followers to abduct Kiyoshi Kariya,chief clerk at a notary office in Tokyo,in February 1995. The victim was a relative of a follower trying to quit the group.

Hirata was one of three former cult members still on the run in connection with a series of heinous crimes by the group,including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. The last trial of those already in custody concluded late last year,Kyodo news agency reported.

“Hirata was arrested on suspicion of abduction and confinement resulting in death,” a Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department spokesman said.

The crime is punishable by at least two years in prison.

“I want to give myself a sense of closure after so many years passed,” Hirata was quoted as telling investigators.

“I only drove a car,” he added about his role in the plot which was,according to police,led by Aum guru Shoko Asahara. Hirata was one of three Aum members who went into hiding after the sarin attack in March 1995,which killed 13 people and injured more than 6,000. Naoko Kikuchi,40,and Katsuya Takahashi,53,are still at large.

Nearly 200 members of the cult have been convicted,including 13 on death row,in the gas attack and dozens of other crimes.

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