NPA Chief Shooting Suspects to Be Released

TOKYO, July 27–Prosecutors have decided to release three people with links to the AUM Shinrikyo cult, who were arrested earlier this month over the 1995 shooting of then National Police Agency chief Takaji Kunimatsu, due to lack of credible evidence, investigative sources said Monday.

The three are to be set free Wednesday, the time limit for their detention.

The three include Toshiyuki Kosugi, 39, a former police officer, the sources said.

They were arrested July 7, together with another suspect, on suspicion of being involved in the attack on Kunimatsu, who was shot and severely wounded in front of his home in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward on March 30, 1995, eight days after the police launched raids on AUM following the fatal sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway system.

Kosugi originally told investigators that he had cooperated with the actual shooter, but a few days later changed his statement to say that he himself tried to kill Kunimatsu, stirring doubts over the credibility of his remarks, the sources said.

Moreover, two former senior AUM members, who police believe were the actual shooter and the commander of the operation, have denied their involvement in the attack, they said.

The prosecutors, meanwhile, are still considering if it is possible to indict another suspect, Koichi Ishikawa, they said.

Ishikawa, 35, was arrested over an explosion at a religious scholar’s house.

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