4 Nabbed in Shooting of Ex-NPA Chief Kunimatsu

TOKYO, July 7 — A former police officer and three former senior AUM Shinrikyo cult members were arrested Wednesday morning over the 1995 shooting of then National Police Agency chief Takaji Kunimatsu, police said.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department continues to investigate, believing there is yet another suspect responsible for executing the crime, investigative sources said.

Kunimatsu was shot by a gunman in front of his residence in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward at around 8:30 a.m. on March 30, 1995, and severely wounded after receiving three bullets to the abdomen. The gunman fled the scene on a black bicycle, the police said.

The arrested former police officer is Toshiyuki Kosugi, 39, and the arrested three former senior AUM members are Mitsuo Sunaoshi, 36, Tetsuya Kibe, 49, and Koichi Ishikawa, 35, the police said.

Kosugi, Sunaoshi and Kibe were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, while Ishikawa was arrested on suspicion of violating the explosives control law, the police said.

The shooting occurred eight days after the Tokyo police launched a criminal investigation into AUM, which renamed itself Aleph in January 2000, following the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system March 20, 1995, which killed 12 people and sickened more than 5,500.

Kunimatsu was directing the investigation of criminal suspicions surrounding the cult at the time.

In May 1996, the then senior policeman confessed to shooting Kunimatsu. In October that year, the Tokyo police searched the Kanda River based on his confession but were unable to find the handgun he said he had used to shoot the NPA chief.

In January 1997, the police sent prosecutors papers on the man on suspicion of leaking secrets in violation of the local government employees law. But in June that year, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office suspended the indictment.

AUM Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death Feb. 27 for his role in 13 criminal cases, including the subway attack. Several other senior cult members have also been convicted or are standing trial in connection with the subway attack or other crimes.

NPA chief Kunimatsu recovered from his gunshot wounds and retired in 1997. He served as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein from 1999 to 2002.

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Kyodo News Service, Japan
July 7, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday July 7, 2004.
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