4 Jan 2012

Police turn away one of Japan's most wanted

1:34 pm on 4 January 2012

Police have admitted they turned away one of Japan's most wanted fugitives when he tried to surrender on New Year's Eve after nearly 17 years on the run.

An officer at the main entrance of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police thought it was a joke when Makoto Hirata showed up, the ABC reports.

Hirata is a former member of the Aum Shinri Kyo doomsday cult, which was responsible for the 1995 nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway.

The officer dismissed him as a fake and told him go to a local police station 700 metres away, where he was arrested 15 minutes later.

Hirata has reportedly told investigators he wanted to turn himself in after seeing the devastation caused by last year's earthquake and tsunami.