Last fugitive of Japan doomsday cult arrested

TOKYO Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:38am EDT

1 of 8. A sticker with the words 'Arrest' is seen on the 'wanted' poster of Katsuya Takahashi, the last remaining fugitive of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, at a police station in Tokyo June 15, 2012. Japanese police on Friday caught Takahashi, who has been wanted for years for suspected involvement in the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack, local media reported.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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TOKYO (Reuters) - The last fugitive of the Japanese doomsday cult Aum that carried out deadly gas attacks in the Tokyo subway in 1995 was arrested on Friday after 17 years on the run, Japanese police said.

Police found 54-year-old Katsuya Takahashi, suspected of murder and attempted murder in the gas attack that left 12 dead and thousands ill, at a comic cafe in Tokyo, a police spokesman said.

"With Takahashi's arrest, all Aum Shinrikyo suspects wanted by the national police have been arrested," a spokesman from Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department said, referring to the cult's name that means "supreme truth sect".

Thirteen ex-Aum members are on death row, including former leader Shoko Asahara.

The cult mixed Buddhist and Hindu meditation with apocalyptic teachings and staged a series of crimes including simultaneous sarin gas attacks on Tokyo subway trains during rush hour in March 1995. Sarin is a lethal nerve gas developed by the Nazis in World War Two.

"I acted based on the instructions from the top officials and did not know some of the objectives," the police spokesman quoted Takahashi as saying after his arrest.

The Japanese public has been obsessed with the whereabouts of Takahashi, with television repeatedly showing images of him caught on a surveillance camera after another former cult member was arrested earlier this month.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Michael Perry)

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