• Kyodo


A former member of Aum Shinrikyo plans to deny involvement in the doomsday cult’s deadly 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, sources said.

Katsuya Takahashi, 56, also intends to deny some of the charges against him in connection with two other crimes when he appears at the Tokyo District Court, where he is expected to face a lay judge trial next year, the sources said Monday.

Takahashi has been indicted in connection with a string of incidents including the sarin gas attack on March 20, 1995, that killed 13 people and left more than 6,000 ill.

According to the sources, Takahashi will tell the court that he did not collude with Aum founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and others in carrying out the sarin gas attack, and several attacks using VX nerve gas in 1994 and 1995.

Apart from the sarin and VX gas attacks, and the 1995 abduction of a Tokyo notary, Takahashi has also been indicted in connection with a parcel bomb the same year sent to then-Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima.

Takahashi was on a special wanted list from 1995 along with former Aum members Makoto Hirata, 49, and Naoko Kikuchi, 42.

The last fugitive of the doomsday cult wanted in connection with the notorious sarin attack, Takahashi was arrested in Tokyo in June 2012 after about 17 years on the run.

Earlier that month, Kikuchi was arrested in Kanagawa Prefecture, while Hirata, a former senior Aum member, turned himself in to Tokyo police in December 2011.

Hirata and Kikuchi denied the charges against them at their lay judge trials but were both found guilty. Hirata was sentenced in March to nine years in prison while Kikuchi received a five-year prison term in June. both have filed appeals. Neither were charged in relation to the subway attack.

The trial of Takahashi, who allegedly acted as a driver for one of the cult members who released sarin in the subway, will mark the first time that the 1995 sarin attack is tackled by lay judges.

Thirteen Aum members including Asahara are currently on death row.

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