Japanese police arrest last gas attack fugitive | News | DW | 15.06.2012
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Japanese police arrest last gas attack fugitive

Police in Japan have arrested the last suspect still on the run after a deadly poison gas attack carried out by a doomsday cult on the Tokyo subway 17 years ago. His arrest marks the end of a massive manhunt.

Japanese police on Friday captured the last fugitive suspected of involvement in deadly nerve gas attacks carried out by a religious cult on Tokyo's subway in 1995.

Police and media said Katsuya Takahashi was detained near a comic-book café in the south of Tokyo. Jiji Press said he was formally arrested on suspicion of murder and other charges.

His capture brings to an end a police hunt for those behind the attacks, in which 13 people were killed and thousands injured after poisonous sarin gas was released on five Tokyo subway trains.

A huge manhunt had been under way in and around the capital after another former member of the doomsday cult, known as Aum Shinrikyo or Supreme Truth, was arrested less than two weeks ago.

The 54-year-old Takahashi was a member of cult guru Shoko Asahara's bodyguard. He is suspected of helping one of the attackers escape.

He is also alleged to have been involved in a kidnapping and murder in 1995 and in a mail-bomb attack that injured a Tokyo city employee.

Apocalyptic vision

Nearly 200 members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult have been convicted in the 1995 attacks and dozens of other crimes. Thirteen of them, including Asahara, are on death row.

Naoko Kikuchi, 40, who was arrested on June 3, was the most recent suspect to be taken into detention other than Takahashi. Kikuchi is accused of having been involved in the manufacture of sarin.

The group was also responsible for a sarin attack in the city of Matsumoto in central Japan in 1994 in which eight people died.

The cult still has hundreds of members in Japan, but is now under police surveillance. Its current leaders have publicly disavowed Asahara.

Asahara envisaged an apocalyptic showdown with the government and the cult had amassed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons in preparation. His disciples included doctors and engineers educated at elite Japanese institutions.

tj/mz (AP, AFP)