Asia

Last Aum cult fugitive Katsuya Takahashi arrested in Japan

  • 15 June 2012
  • From the section Asia

Police in Japan have arrested the last fugitive of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, ending a 17-year manhunt.

Katsuya Takahashi is suspected of involvement in the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 13 people.

The police have verified his identity after detaining him near a cafe in Tokyo.

A manhunt involving thousands of officers began last week after the suspect fled his home.

Mr Takahashi has been on the run since the attacks, which also injured 6,000.

On Friday, police took him into custody near a comic book cafe in Tokyo, local media reported.

The 54-year-old is suspected of driving a fellow cult-member to a station to release the gas during the morning rush hour.

Massive manhunt

Another suspect, Naoko Kikuchi, was reportedly arrested two weeks ago.

Information from her led the police to a construction firm in Kawasaki where Mr Takahashi had worked under an assumed name, says the BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo.

He had already fled his room in the company's dormitory, but the police found a recent photograph of him.

It was released, along with CCTV footage of Takahashi withdrawing money from his bank account.

A massive manhunt was deployed across Tokyo last week. The man suspected of being Mr Takahashi was detained after a tip-off from a member of the public.

On New Year's Eve another former member of Aum Shinrikyo, Makoto Hirata, turned himself in to police after nearly 17 years on the run.

Nearly 200 Aum Shinrikyo members have been convicted in connection with the sarin attack and other crimes. Thirteen are awaiting execution.

Aum Shinrikyo began as a spiritual group mixing Hindu and Buddhist beliefs in the 1980s, but developed into a paranoid cult obsessed with Armageddon.

Cult leader Shoko Asahara is among those on death row.

Aum Shinrikyo reinvented itself as the Aleph group, which continues to operate as a spiritual group.

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