Police in Japan are poised to serve a fresh arrest warrant against former AUM Shinkrikyo member Naoko Kikuchi on suspicion of murder and attempted murder in connection with three VX nerve agent attacks in 1994 and 1995, it has been learned.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) plans to serve the arrest warrant on Kikuchi, 40, on June 24, when the limit for detaining her in connection with a probe into AUM’s sarin gas attacks expires.
Meanwhile the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors’ Office is set to shelve action again Kikuchi over the sarin attacks, which were carried out on Tokyo’s subway system in 1995.
Kikuchi, 40, is suspected of spraying VX gas on a 28-year-old man on a street in Osaka on Dec. 12, 1994, as she believed him to be a spy. The man died 10 days later.
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She is also alleged to have used VX gas in the same month to try to kill a man who was sheltering an Aum deserter and another man the next month who headed a group supporting victims of the cult.
The VX gas cases were followed by the sarin gas attack on Tokyo’s subway system on March 20, 1995. Thirteen people were killed and more than 6,200 sickened.
Kikuchi was arrested June 3 after 17 years on the run, wanted for allegedly playing a role in the production of the nerve agent used in the subway attack.
While on the loose, she periodically lived with fellow Aum fugive Katsuya Takahashi, 54, in an apartment in Kawasaki for about 10 years from 1997 and recently with Hiroto Takahashi, 41, no relation to the fugitive, in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. The man was arrested for harboring Kikuchi.
Wanted as an alleged wheel man in the subway attack and for other Aum crimes, Katsuya Takahashi was arrested last week after also being on the lam for 17 years.
Kikuchi was also served a warrant in connection with an explosive that was sent to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. A clerk who opened the package was seriously injured.
Meanwhile The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that
Former Aum Supreme Truth cult member Katsuya Takahashi has said he heard one of the cult’s leaders order members to create “a commotion” on the eve of the March 20, 1995, sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, according to investigative sources.
Takahashi, 54, was arrested Friday in Tokyo on suspicion of murder and attempted murder after 17 years as a fugitive.
He also thought he heard Yoshihiro Inoue, 42, currently on death row, tell some cult members, including Takahashi, to “scatter ‘chacha,'” the source said.
“Chacha” was a term for sarin gas used among the cult members, they said.
The Metropolitan Police Department is questioning Takahashi in the belief that he knew in advance of the sarin gas attack.
According to the sources, Takahashi belonged to the cult’s self-styled “information ministry,” of which Inoue was the head. Takahashi was one of Inoue’s close aides, they said.