Japan jails Aum Shinrikyo cult member Makoto Hirata

BBC News/March 7, 2014

A former member of Japan's Aum Shinrikyo cult has been jailed for nine years, Japanese media report.

Makoto Hirata was jailed for the abduction of a 68-year-old man and his involvement in two bombing attacks, Kyodo news agency reported.

He handed himself in two years ago, after nearly two decades on the run.

The cult was responsible for a deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, which killed 13. Several cult members have been sentenced to death.

However, Hirata was not charged in relation to the subway attack.

Hirata was found guilty of abducting notary Kiyoshi Kariya in February 1995, as well as involvement in the bombing of a Tokyo property and the firebombing of an Aum facility in March 1995, Kyodo news agency reported.

The two bombing attacks were an attempt to obstruct the police investigation, Kyodo added.

Mr Kariya was abducted when his sister attempted to leave the cult, reports said. He died after he was given an injection by the cult.

Aum Shinrikyo began as a spiritual group mixing Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, but became a paranoid doomsday cult obsessed with Armageddon.

Some 189 Aum cultists have been put on trial over the various attacks carried out by the cult, and 13 members, including leader Shoko Asahara, have been sentenced to death.

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