Skooter reporting 06/15/12
The last fugitive suspected in a doomsday cult’s deadly nerve gas attack on Tokyo subways 17 years ago, was arrested by Japanese police Friday, press reports said.
The former member of Aum shinrikyo cult, Katsuya Takahashi, 54, was arrested on suspicion of murder at a comic book cafe in downtown Tokyo when a cafe employee had recognized him and called police, NHK said.
When police approached Takahashi at the café, he admitted who he was, NHK said.
A huge crowd outside the shop trying to catch a quick look of the last cult fugitive showed a thin, bespectacled Takahashi being drag into a police car. Takahashi had been a bodyguard of cult guru Shoko Asahara and was on Japan’s most wanted list for his involvement in the sarin gas attack on Tokyo subways, leaving 13 people dead and injured more than 6,000.
Takahashi's trail had been frozen for years, but it intensified this month after another fugitive from the cult was arrested earlier this month. From that time on, thousands of police officers were deployed across Tokyo area, distributing fresh photos of Takahashi and patrolling transportation centers to keep him from escaping the capital.
Last week, a CCTV camera showed Takahashi attempting to withdraw money from an ATM shortly after the other fugitive was arrested. Police presumed he had been hiding in the Tokyo area under a fake name.
Aum Shinrikyo had stored an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons in expectation of a prophetic showdown with the government. In the 1995 attack about 200 of its members have been convicted and dozens of other crimes. Out of these, thirteen are in death row, including Asahara.
Other cult members who have been in custody are Makoto Hirata, charged in a 1995 cult-related kidnapping-murder as well as the subway attack. Naoko Kikuchi, 40, the second-to-last fugitive was arrested on June 3 and had been accused of helping produce the sarin the group released on the subway.
The cult is divided into two groups, each renamed Aleph and the Circle of Rainbow Light, said to have 10,000 members in Japan and claimed another 30,000 in Russia. The cult is under police close watch and its current leaders have publicly disowned Asahara.