Aum Shinrikyo: facial recognition, reward and fresh charges

Police in Japan are trying to decide how to divide the $250,000 reward for information that led to the capture of the final suspects in the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subway.

Aum Shinrikyo cult member Katsuya Takahashi was reported to police by a staff member at a Manga café.

He was arrested just two weeks after police nabbed Naoko Kikuchi — another high-profile Aum cult fugitive.

Kikuchi was arrested following what local media have said was a tip off from a relative of her boyfriend.

AFP says

Police authorities and a group of retired investigators had put up two lots of 10 million yen ($125,000) for anyone who tipped them off over where they could find two of the country’s most wanted fugitives.

The news service notes that Kikuchi’s lover, reportedly aware of her status as one of Japan’s most wanted, was arrested on suspicion of harbouring a criminal suspect.

Police are reportedly studying whether the tipster qualifies for the 10 million yen bounty, which cannot be given to an accomplice or to someone who committed a different crime to receive the information, according to police.

Kikuchi and Takahashi are suspected of murder and other charges in connection with the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000.

Kikuchi has told police she no longer believes the teachings of Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Chizuo Matsumoto, better known as Shoko Asahara.

But Takahashi still reportedly still worships the cult leader and his teachings.

Money Troubles

The Asahi Shimbun reports that the two cult members

were settling comfortably into relatively normal lives, but things began to unravel after one of them decided to hook up with a new boyfriend, police sources said.

Following their split, the two former cultists–Naoko Kikuchi, 40, and Katsuya Takahashi, 54–bickered over money and were finally arrested earlier this month after 17 years on the run.

But through it all, the two persistently tried to lead ordinary lives. They have told police that this goal was the reason they continued their flight from authorities for so long.

Fresh Warrants

As expected Kikuchi on Monday was served fresh arrest warrants Sunday for murder and attempted murder between 1994 and 1995.

While Aum Shinrikyo is best known for its deadly attack on the Tokyo subway system, the cult has a history of violence, and has been involved in many other crimes.

Kyodo writes that Kikuchi, who allegedly produced VX with fellow cultist Masami Tsuchiya, 47, who is on a death row,

is suspected of murdering Osaka salaryman Tadahito Hamaguchi, 28, by spraying him with VX, a toxic nerve gas, on a street in the city in December 1994 on the orders of Hideo Murai, one of the cult’s top officials at the time.

Through January 1995, she allegedly attempted to kill two other people using the same method, including Hiroyuki Nagaoka, 74, who chairs a group representing victims of the cult’s crimes, according to the police. […]

She also been served a warrant for sending a parcel bomb that severely injured a Tokyo Metropolitan Government official when it was opened.

Facial Aging

Meanwhile The Japan Times reports that

The National Police Agency has enlisted science and 3-D imaging in an effort to predict facial changes in long-term fugitives.

The agency embarked on the project after receiving complaints that the recently arrested Aum Shinrikyo fugitives, including Katsuya Takahashi, 54, who had been on the run for 17 years, looked much different from the mug shots police had plastered on their aging wanted posters.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday June 28, 2012.
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