Prime Suspect Denies Shooting NPA Chief

TOKYO, July 20 — A former AUM Shinrikyo cult member denied Tuesday allegations that he shot then National Police Agency chief Takaji Kunimatsu in March 1995, investigative sources said.

Satoru Hashimoto, 37, who is currently appealing a death sentence in a separate murder case, was quoted as telling investigators in the Tokyo detention house, ”did not do that.”

Four former and current AUM members were arrested July 7 in connection with the Kunimatsu shooting, but the police believe the actual gunman is not among them and are eyeing Hashimoto as the prime suspect.

Kunimatsu, who was then directing investigations into suspicions surrounding AUM, was shot three times in the abdomen and seriously injured.

AUM renamed itself Aleph in January 2000.

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