News reports say chemicals, equipment found in its compound
TOKYO — Police searching an apocalyptic religious group’s commune found chemical-filled tanks and equipment that could have been used to create a nerve gas that killed 10 people on Tokyo’s subways, news reports said today.
After six days of intense searches that turned up tons of chemicals, millions of dollars worth of yen and piles of gold bars, police appeared today to focus their efforts on a maze-like building. Police refused comment on what they had found yesterday in their search of the windowless, tarp-covered building operated by the group known as Aum Shinri Kyo, or Supreme Truth. Media reports said it was filled with items that could be used to produce the nerve gas sarin.
There were media reports that police had found chemical residues in soil samples around the compound that link them to the sarin used in the subway attack — and to sarin released last summer in the city of Matsumoto, killing seven people.
Three judges assigned to a lawsuit against the sect were injured in the attack at Matsumoto. No arrests have been made.
Police announced yesterday that they are investigating the sect for ”preparing to commit murder,” since sarin’s only use is for killing.
The announcement appeared to bring the police, who used a kidnapping as the basis for their searches, one step closer to linking the cult to the subway terror.
Also early today, the Washington Post reported that media and the public have begun criticizing the police response to the subway attack and the handling of the Matsumoto case.
The police — and the news media — focused on a man who is now generally considered innocent, and consequently did not move against the Aum Shinri Kyo cult, despite complaints from people in Matsumoto and evidence suggesting that the sect had made sarin gas at its retreat near Mount Fuji.
Sometime after the Matsumoto poisonings, according to media reports, police discovered that a nearby branch of the Aum sect had a warehouse filled with large quantities of chemicals — including those used to make sarin. There are no indications that the authorities acted on this information.