Kariya's family reconciles with former Aum member Hirata

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan/December 14, 2013

A former senior member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult, indicted for his alleged involvement in the 1995 abduction and confinement of a Tokyo man who was later killed, has agreed with bereaved family members of the victim to pay ¥10 million in compensation and help shed light on the case.

Makoto Hirata, 48, reached a private agreement with four of the family members of Kiyoshi Kariya, then chief clerk of the Meguro public notary office. Hirata’s trial is scheduled to open on Jan. 6 under the lay judge system.

Hirata is expected to admit to some of the charges at his trial, including his involvement in the abduction and confinement of Kariya.

The scheduled trial is expected to attract wide public attention, as it will be the first Aum-related case to be tried under the lay judge system.

Hirata was a bodyguard for Aum founder Chizuo Matsu- moto, 58, who is on death row.

But Hirata disappeared in 1995 when police searched the cult’s headquarters in Yamanashi Prefecture. He remained a fugitive for about 17 years until surrendering to police on Dec. 31, 2011.

According to a lawyer representing Kariya’s 58-year-old son, Minoru, Hirata abruptly contacted the lawyer in June to seek a reconciliation with the bereaved family. Hirata offered an apology and compensation, which were turned down. Minoru was quoted as saying that he would agree to reconciliation only if Hirata cooperated in clarifying the details of his father’s murder. Hirata agreed to the condition in July.

Hirata has already paid ¥4 million to the family members in February 2012 with the help of a 51-year-old woman who lived with him while he was on the run.

Hirata was quoted as saying that he would pay ¥50,000 a month to the family for 10 years to cover the remaining ¥6 million after he is released from prison.

According to the indictment, together with other senior cult members, Hirata abducted Kariya in February 1995 in Tokyo and confined him. Kariya was later killed after being administered a large amount of anesthetics at the cult’s headquarters by followers.

Minoru said he has attended as many Aum court hearings as he could since they began in 1995.

However, he said, “Questions remain, such as why was my father abducted and killed.”

Minoru will participate in the trial under a system introduced in 2008 that allows criminal case victims or their relatives to state opinions or ask questions to defendants or witnesses in trials for such crimes as murder and injury.

“I’d like to directly ask Hirata about details of the incident, and how my father endured his ordeal,” Minoru said. “The reconciliation could bring him clemency, but in return, I expect him to tell the truth.”

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