Ex-Aum Shinrikyo cultist faces fresh arrest warrant over bombing

Former AUM Shinrikyo cult member Makoto Hirata, 46, arrested for kidnapping, will be served a fresh arrest warrant as early as Jan. 31 for alleged involvement in a 1995 bombing in Tokyo.

Kyodo News says

According to sources including the record of the trial over the bombing, Hirata went to the scene of the apartment bombing in the capital’s Suginami Ward on directions from former AUM Shinrikyo member Yoshihiro Inoue, 42, acting as a lookout and to confirm that the bomb had detonated. Hirata has reportedly admitted to involvement since turning himself in on Dec. 31, 2011.

Hirata is already under arrest on suspicion of kidnapping a man who then died while a prisoner of AUM Shinrikyo.

Meanwhile Akemi Saito, another former Aum Shinikyo cult member, yesterday was charged with harboring Hirata for almost 17 years while knowing he was a fugitive.

Her lawyer says she has expressed regret over joining the cult.

Kyodo writes

According to lawyer Taro Takimoto, who talked with Saito on Jan. 30, she said, “If I had not joined the cult and renounced the world, I think I could have had a different life,” “I wish I’d turned myself in earlier,” and “I will truthfully and sincerely say all at trial.”

Takimoto says that while on the run, Saito read a book by AUM member Ikuo Hayashi, now 65 and serving a life sentence, in which he expressed regret over the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Saito trusted the words of Hayashi, and the book is thought to have encouraged her to stop following the cult’s teachings.

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