By Jim Kouri
Tokyo police officers Thursday nabbed the last known member of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult that perpetrated one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history when they released deadly sarin nerve gas into the Japanese city’s subway system, according to police sources.
The now 54-year-old Katsuya Takahashi is a prime suspect in the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subway system that killed 13 people and injured 6,000 other subway riders. The police verified his identity after apprehending him near a restaurant in Tokyo.
Takahashi has been a fugitive since the attacks in which he allegedly drove one of the cult members to a subway station to release the deadly nerve gas during the morning rush hour, according to police.
Based on a tip from a female informant, over 1,000 police officers launched a massive manhunt throughout Tokyo last week. The man suspected of being Takahashi was detained after a tip from a Tokyo resident officials stated.
During the 2011 New Year’s Eve celebration in Tokyo, Aum Shinrikyo member Makoto Hirata turned himself in to police after spending more than 17 years “underground.”
Close to 200 Aum Shinrikyo members were convicted for taking part in the sarin attack and for committing other crimes. Thirteen members are sitting on death row awaiting execution.
What began as a spiritual group — combining Buddhism with Hinduism and Christianity — developed into a radical cult obsessed with Armageddon. The group’s spiritual leader, Shoko Asahara, is on death row awaiting his execution.
The remaining members of Aum Shinrikyo are now the Aleph Group, which continues to claim it is a spiritual organization.
Capital Punishment is legal in Japan. The only crimes for which capital punishment is imposed are homicide and treason. The death penalty is ordinarily imposed in cases of multiple murders involving aggravating factors.
Death sentences are carried out by hanging in a special facility within the prison. When a death sentence is pronounced, the condemned prisoner is informed in the morning of his or her execution. The prisoner’s family and legal counsel are not informed until after the prisoner is dead. Since December 7, 2007, the Japanese authorities have been releasing the names, natures of crime and ages of executed prisoners.