Japanese Cult Member Katsuya Takahashi Arrested After 17 Years

Jun 14, 2012 11:57pm
ap cult ac 120614 wblog Japanese Cult Member Katsuya Takahashi Arrested After 17 Years

AP Photo/Kyodo News

The last remaining fugitive of the doomsday cult responsible for killing 13 people in Japan’s worst domestic terror attack has been arrested, ending an intense manhunt that gripped the nation for more than a week.

Fifty-four year-old Katsuya Takahashi, was arrested at a comic book café in the Tokyo neighborhood of Kamata Friday morning, after an employee spotted him and called police, according to broadcaster NHK. He had been on the run for 17 years.

Takahashi’s capture ends a nationwide manhunt that began on June 3 after the arrest of another cult member, Naoko Kikuchi, who reportedly lived with him between 2001 and 2006. The information Kikuchi shared with police, helped investigators close in on Takahashi’s trail. The Metropolitan Police Department said they received more than 1,700 tips over the last 10 days.

Thirteen members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, including founder Shoko Asahara, have already been sentenced to death for their crimes. In March 1995, the group unleashed sarin nerve gas on five trains in the Tokyo subway, in a coordinated attack that killed 13 commuters and injured thousands more.

During questioning Takahashi reportedly told police, senior members of the cult directed him to carry out the attacks. He said he was not fully aware of the motive behind the group’s actions at the time, according to police.

Police say Takahashi had been working for a construction company using a false name, and had been living in a company dormitory south of Tokyo. He went missing the day after Kikuchi was arrested, but he was spotted on surveillance camera at a local bank a few days later. Police released hundreds of fliers with Takahashi’s photo, eventually leading to his arrest on Friday.

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