’95 Aum subway gas attack marked

Kyodo

Tokyo subway officials commemorated the 18th anniversary Wednesday of Aum Shinrikyo’s deadly sarin attack, remembering the assault at one of the stations where lives were lost.

A moment of silence was observed by 25 Tokyo Metro Co. employees at Kasumigaseki Station in Chiyoda Ward at 8 a.m., around the time when cult members released the nerve gas inside subway trains on March 20, 1995, killing 13 people and wounding more than 6,000 others.

Cult founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and 12 other cultists have been on death row since being convicted for masterminding and carrying out the attack and other heinous crimes.

Last year the last three Aum fugitives wanted in connection with the subway attack and other crimes by the cult were collared.

Death-row pair to testify

Prosecutors seek to grill two senior Aum Shinrikyo figures on death row for the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and other crimes in connection with the pending trial of one of the three fugitives who were caught last year, sources said Wednesday.

The Tokyo District Court will decide whether to allow prosecutors to quiz Yoshihiro Inoue, 43, and Tomomasa Nakagawa, 50, as witnesses in the trial of Makoto Hirata, 47, who turned himself in to police in late December 2011 after 14 years on the lam.

Hirata has been indicted for his alleged involvement in a 1995 kidnap-murder and other crimes.

Prosecutors believe the death-row pair were also involved in the kidnap-murder of Tokyo notary public Kiyoshi Kariya.

Prosecutors and Hirata’s lawyers are currently working on the pretrial meetings to decide on the points of arguments.