Aum Death-row Inmates Get Audience in Tokyo District Court

The Tokyo District Court has decided to accept prosecutors’ requests to question three death-row inmates who were senior members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult as part of the lay judge trial of another former Aum official.

The three are Yoshihiro Inoue, 43; Tomomasa Nakagawa, 50; and Yasuo Hayashi, 55, whose current family name is Koike. It will be the first time death-row inmates are examined as witnesses in a lay judge trial.

It is said prosecutors hope to examine the witnesses at their prisons to avoid damaging their mental condition.

The trial of former Aum executive Makoto Hirata, 48, is expected to start within the year.

Aum Shinrikyo: Makoto Hirata avoids notary-killing charges

Prosecutors will charge longtime Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Makoto Hirata with “unlawful capture” and confinement Friday in connection with the fatal abduction of Tokyo notary Kiyoshi Kariya in 1995 and will not pursue an indictment over his death, investigative sources said Wednesday.

Tokyo prosecutors apparently concluded it would be difficult to prove Hirata, 46, was aware that Kariya, 68, had been given a drug overdose — administered as a truth serum — that caused his death, and thus will not charge the cultist with manslaughter.

Hirata claimed during questioning after his New Year’s Day arrest that he only learned the circumstances of Kariya’s death after the fact, the sources said. Tokyo police arrested him for the technical charge of unlawful capture and confinement causing death after he turned himself in Dec. 31 after nearly 17 years on the run for the crimes.

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Aum Shinrikyo cult member caught after 17 years on the run

A member of the doomsday cult behind a deadly Tokyo subway gas attack and other crimes turned himself in to police after 17 years on the run, an official said Sunday.

A Tokyo metropolitan police official said Makoto Hirata, a member of Aum Shinrikyo, conspired with several other members in kidnapping a notary official in 1995 and causing his death. The victim, Kiyoshi Kariya, then 68, was the brother of a follower trying to quit the group.

Hirata, 46, who had been on the run since the summer of 1995, turned himself in at a Tokyo police station and was detained early Sunday, the police official said on condition of anonymity.

The cult also released sarin nerve gas in Tokyos subway system in 1995, killing 13 people and injuring more than 6,000 in Japans deadliest act of domestic terrorism.

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