Hirata avoids notary-killing charges

The Japan Times/January 19, 2012

Kyodo -- Prosecutors will charge longtime Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Makoto Hirata with "unlawful capture" and confinement Friday in connection with the fatal abduction of Tokyo notary Kiyoshi Kariya in 1995 and will not pursue an indictment over his death, investigative sources said Wednesday.

Tokyo prosecutors apparently concluded it would be difficult to prove Hirata, 46, was aware that Kariya, 68, had been given a drug overdose — administered as a truth serum — that caused his death, and thus will not charge the cultist with manslaughter.

Hirata claimed during questioning after his New Year's Day arrest that he only learned the circumstances of Kariya's death after the fact, the sources said. Tokyo police arrested him for the technical charge of unlawful capture and confinement causing death after he turned himself in Dec. 31 after nearly 17 years on the run for the crimes.

Hirata is expected to be served another warrant possibly by the end of this month over his alleged role in a 1995 condominium explosion in Suginami Ward, Tokyo, the sources said.

Hirata stands accused of conspiring with Aum founder Shoko Asahara and other cultists in abducting Kariya in Tokyo on Feb. 28, 1995, and subsequently causing his death at an Aum compound in Yamanashi Prefecture by administering the drug overdose.

Earlier reports said Hirata only told investigators he drove a lookout vehicle during the kidnapping. His lawyer, Taro Takimoto, said Hirata told him he was of the understanding the abduction was part of an attempt to take back Kariya's wealthy younger sister, who had fled the cult and was being protected by her family.

Two other cultists remain at large in connection with Aum's heinous crimes, including the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack.

Kariya's corpse was never found, but testimony from cultists during the Aum trials that started in the mid-1990s led the courts to conclude he was cremated at the Yamanashi compound and that Asahara masterminded the crime.

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