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AUM's Takahashi indicted over 1995 sarin attack on Tokyo subway.

TOKYO, July 6 Kyodo

Japanese prosecutors on Friday filed murder and attempted murder charges against Katsuya Takahashi, the last member of the AUM Shinrikyo cult arrested over the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office lodged the indictment document with the Tokyo District Court.

Takahashi, 54, may be tried by a panel of three professional and six citizen judges, judicial sources said.

Takahashi, who was on the run for 17 years, was apprehended on June 15 at a comic cafe in Tokyo's Ota Ward and arrested later in the day after his identity was verified by his fingerprints.

He is alleged to have played a part in the gas attack on the Tokyo subway on March 20, 1995, which was masterminded by cult founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.

Takahashi is believed to have driven another AUM member to a subway station prior to the attack that killed 13 people and made more than 6,000 others ill. In conspiracy with Asahara and AUM members, Takahashi was allegedly involved in the killing of 12 of the 13 and the injuring of some 5,500 people in the sarin gas attack.

Tokyo police plan to serve a fresh arrest warrant on Takahashi shortly on suspicion of attempted murder and of violating the 1884 explosives control law over his suspected involvement in the sending of a parcel bomb that exploded at the Tokyo metropolitan government office in May 1995, seriously injuring a metropolitan government official.

Meanwhile, Takahashi has told investigators that he had not expected to be caught because he looked completely different from the photo attached to the wanted list, police sources said.

He was apprehended after the police released to the media images of him caught on a security camera at a Kawasaki Shinkin Bank branch in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, where he withdrew a large amount of deposits on June 4.

After withdrawing the cash, he fled from a dormitory belonging to his employer in Kawasaki, just southwest of Tokyo.

He has also told the investigators that he continued to live near JR Tsurumi Station in Yokohama's Tsurumi Ward, and that he had placed a large bag containing photos and tapes of Asahara in a coin-operated locker at the railway station.

A total of 13 people, including the cult founder, are on death row for staging a series of heinous crimes that included two rounds of sarin gas attacks in Tokyo and Nagano Prefecture in central Japan in the mid-1990s.

AUM Shinrikyo renamed itself Aleph in 2000. In 2007, a senior member and some followers left Aleph to launch a splinter group, named Hikari no wa, or the Circle of Rainbow Light.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jul 9, 2012
Words:453
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