2 Jan 2012

Japanese cult figure surrenders to police

6:02 am on 2 January 2012

A former member of Japan's Aum Shinrikyo cult has turned himself in to police after nearly 17 years on the run.

Police said Makoto Hirata gave himself up at a station in Tokyo just before midnight on New Year's Eve.

He had been in hiding since the cult's sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 which killed 13 people, the BBC reports.

He was immediately arrested on suspicion of conspiring to kidnap the brother of a follower of the cult.

The man he is accused of abducting died after being given an injection at Aum's main commune at the foot of Mount Fuji, officials said.

Only two other members of the cult are still being sought by police. They went on the run after the gas attack in Tokyo, which injured 6000 people.

Nearly 200 Aum Shinrikyo members have been convicted of that attack and other crimes.

Thirteen are awaiting execution, after judges in November last year upheld the death sentence against the final member of the cult to be charged over the 1995 attack.