Police hope Hirata photos lead to abettors

Kyodo

Police released four recent photos Friday of Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Makoto Hirata, who turned himself in on New Year’s Eve, hoping to gather information on his nearly 17-year life on the run.

The Metropolitan Police Department said it made the photos public because two cultists are still at large in connection with Aum’s murderous crimes, particularly the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack, and because Hirata apparently had help in evading capture.

Hirata, 46, who had been on a wanted list since May 1995, stands accused of conspiring with condemned Aum founder Shoko Asahara and other cultists to abduct Tokyo notary Kiyoshi Kariya in February 1995. Kariya, who was believed killed while in captivity, had a sister who was in hiding after she tried to leave Aum.

Hirata allegedly was involved in Kariya’s confinement as well as in injecting him with a lethal dose of chemical on March 1, 1995. Hirata has admitted driving a lookout car during the abduction.

Two of the photos show Hirata after his arrest, while the other two were taken by a security camera when he came to the Marunouchi Police Station in downtown Tokyo last Saturday night, only to be turned away because no one believed his claim of being a fugitive.

On the day he surrendered, Hirata is believed to have traveled by bullet train from Shin-Osaka Station to Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, fingerprints found on train tickets and security camera footage indicate.

In addition, Hirata’s image was found in recordings of surveillance cameras at Nanba Station on the Midosuji subway line that runs through the center of the city of Osaka from north to south, the sources said, adding that he probably took the subway to Shin-Osaka Station before leaving for Tokyo.

He was carrying some ¥100,000 when he was arrested, another indication that he had help during his time on the lam.