Tokyo - Makoto Hirata, 46, one of Japan's most wanted criminals, turned himself in to police at 23:50 (local time) on December 31, 2011 stating his intention "to close with his past." Hirata was one of three members of the Aum Shinrikyo sect still sought after a sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo underground on 20 March 1995. 13 people died in the attack, and six thousand were injured. It was one of the worst attacks ever committed in Japan. (In the photo, Hirata hides his face during the arrest).

Thirteen people were sentenced to death by hanging for the crime, and are still on death row awaiting their fate. In November 2011 the Supreme Court rejected an appeal for clemency for Seiichi Endo, 51, a leader of the attack. The sentences have not been carried out so far, while waiting for the Court verdict on Endo’s request. The rejection seems to pave the way for the execution, although a further postponement is likely, since the 13 will have to testify at Hirata’s trial. Among them Shoko Asahara, 56, founder and leader of the sect.

Makoto Hirata is not accused of direct involvement with the gas attack, but was wanted for the kidnapping and killing of Kyoshi Kariya, 68, brother of a sect member, a woman who had left the group. Kariya was injected with a form of "truth serum" to push him to talk of his sister. He died from an overdose of drugs that were administered. Hirata confirmed that he brought Kariya to the sect’s base at the foot of Mount Fuji, but claims he was not directly involved in the death.

Aum Shinrikyo, "Supreme Truth" was founded in 1984 by Asahara, a nearly-blind yoga teacher, and mixes elements from Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. Asahara has repeatedly stated to be a reincarnation of Christ, accused the British royal family of conspiring against him, and prophesied the end of the world for 1997. In 1995 it was estimated that the sect had 30 thousand in Japan and 10 thousand followers in Russia. The sect possessed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons in preparation for an apocalyptic struggle against the government, which was to start with the attack on the subway. The sect, which is still operating in Japan and Russia under the name "Aleph", is under close surveillance of security organisations.

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Source: Asia News

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