Imprisoned Ex-Aum Shinrikyo cult members questioned over Hirata’s role in 1995 case

Police in Tokyo have questioned former AUM Shinrikyo cult member Yoshihiro Inoue, who is on death row, as part of their investigation into a case involving another former leading member who turned himself in to police over the weekend after almost 17 years on the run, investigative sources said Thursday.

Kyodo News reports

Inoue, 42, was questioned on a voluntary basis as the police investigated the role played by Makoto Hirata, 46, in the 1995 abduction of a Tokyo notary office clerk and his subsequent death. Inoue was put in charge of that crime on AUM founder Shoko Asahara‘s instructions.

Hirata was quoted by the sources as telling the police he was instructed by Inoue to drive a car in the abduction case involving the notary clerk, Kiyoshi Kariya, 68. Meanwhile, he also told his lawyer he did not know about the abduction plan.

The police are expected also to question other convicted former AUM members, the sources said. […]

According to court records and other sources, Asahara ordered his followers to abduct Kariya to discover the whereabouts of Kariya’s sister who had been in hiding after she tried to leave the cult.

A group of AUM members led by Inoue kidnapped Kariya by car and Hirata allegedly played the role of watchman in another vehicle that followed. He is also believed to have been involved in cleaning up fingerprints and bloodstains in the car that carried Kariya.

According to the Mainichi Daily News

Makoto Hirata says that he threw away a photo of himself with AUM founder Shoko Asahara about five years ago after becoming disillusioned with the guru’s miserable attitude in court, his lawyers said Jan. 4. […]

Lawyer Takimoto called Hirata’s action to discard the photo of himself with Asahara, 56, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, “an extraordinary decision” and said Hirata is no longer under mind control. […]

Regarding the fatal abduction of Kariya, the lawyers related, Hirata said he had intended “to rescue” Kariya’s sister, an AUM follower, but was surprised by the kidnapping itself.

Meanwhile Koydo News says

Makoto Hirata … never left Japan and had Internet access while on the lam and learned of his father’s May 2006 death via a lawyer’s blog, it was learned Wednesday. [..]

His apparent use of the Internet could help police to uncover details about the long years he spent as a fugitive, investigative sources said. Although Aum engaged in various heinous crimes, the cult also ran businesses, including those that involved the Internet that reportedly turned profits.

Hirata said he had remained in Japan while on the run, but denied having any contact with two other high-profile Aum fugitives — Katsuya Takahashi, who would be 53 if still alive, and Naoko Kikuchi, 40 — according to [Makoto’s lawyer Taro] Takimoto.

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