Condemned cultist grilled on Hirata


Police have questioned condemned Aum Shinrikyo killer Yoshihiro Inoue as part of their investigation into fugitive cultist Makoto Hirata, who turned himself in on New Year’s Eve after almost 17 years on the run, investigative sources said Thursday.

Inoue, 42, was questioned on a voluntary basis as police look into the alleged role played by Hirata, 46, in the 1995 abduction-slaying of a Tokyo notary.

Hirata was quoted by the sources as telling the police that Inoue had him drive a lookout car during the abduction of notary clerk Kiyoshi Kariya, 68. He also told his lawyer he did not know about the abduction plan.

Also on Thursday, National Police Agency Commissioner Gen. Yutaka Katagiri admitted at a news conference that police acted inappropriately when they turned Hirata away when he first showed up at the Metropolitan Police Department headquarters to turn himself in Saturday night.

It was also learned that Hirata was in possession of over ¥30,000 worth of prepaid highway toll cards when he showed up at the police station. The toll card system ended in March 2006, but the police are analyzing records for clues to how he spent his flight.

Court records and other sources indicate Asahara ordered his followers to abduct Kariya to discover the whereabouts of his sister, who fled the cult and went into hiding.