crime

Former Aum member Hirata jailed for 9 years

23 Comments

The Tokyo District Court on Friday sentenced a former member of Aum Supreme Truth, Makoto Hirata, 48, to nine years in prison for his participation in three crimes carried out by the cult.

Prosecutors had called for a sentence of 12 years. Six lay judges and three professional judges handed down the verdict in the trial which began on Jan 16.

After being on the run for nearly 17 years, Hirata turned himself in at a Tokyo police station on New Year’s eve 2011 after at first being turned away by another police officer who didn’t recognize him.

He was one of the final fugitives who went into hiding after the rush-hour release of sarin in March 1995, an episode that sickened thousands and sowed panic among Tokyo's millions of commuters.

In an unusual move, prosecutors called three former members of the cult to testify during the trial. It was the first time that death-row inmates have been called to testify as witnesses. The three were Tomomasa Nakagawa, 50, Yasuo Hayashi, 55, and Yoshihiro Inoue, 43.

Although Hirata was not charged in connection with the subway attack, he was tried over his role in the kidnapping of 68-year-old notary clerk Kiyoshi Kariya who had sheltered his sister after she escaped from the cult.

Kariya was taken to Aum's main commune at the foot of Mount Fuji and died the next day from what has been described as tracheal obstruction after being given an injection.

Hirata denied playing any active role in the abduction, contending that he only acted as a lookout. "I have no idea what happened after I finished the guard role," he testified.

Hirata was also found guilty of being an accessory in the bombing of a Tokyo condominium and the firebombing of an Aum facility. Prosecutors said the bombings were carried out to throw police off the trail.

Presiding judge Hiroaki Saito said that Hirata was fully aware of what he was doing and that he kept the public in a state of terror during his 17 years on the run.

Hirata joined the cult in 1984 after graduating from university and was mainly tasked with guarding Aum guru Shoko Asahara, a near-blind yoga master who attracted some 10,000 followers at the height of his popularity.

Asahara preached a blend of Buddhist and Hindu dogma, sprinkled with visions of the apocalypse. He developed an obsession with the Nazi-developed sarin gas -- used by Saddam Hussein on the Kurds -- becoming paranoid that his enemies would use it to attack him.

Prosecutors say the subway attack was launched because the cult wanted to disrupt police attempts to crack down on it and to throw Tokyo into chaos to realize the guru's dream of an apocalyptic war.

Thirteen cult members have been sentenced to death for the attack and other incidents, including Asahara. The total number of cult members indicted over the series of crimes is 190.

A man and a woman who were arrested in 2012, the final two fugitive members of the cult, are still awaiting trial.

© Japan Today/AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


23 Comments
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they always talk about the sarin, but what about the VX Gas which is even worse and the first time ever used....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

10 years for theft, 9 years for Terrorism. Makes perfect sense..here anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I _wouldn't worry how he will live after he will be freed. Remind you, these members were not from poor family. HS students, Univ students etc donated their future inheritance after Asahara with his near blind eyes (he attended blind children;s school, brainwashed them. Many of their parents organized 'Ohmu Shiri-kyo Higaisha mo Kai. (Association of Victims of Ohmu Shinri Ktyo). These parents cried for returning of their children. Some of them quitted prestageous occupation and joined. Tomomasa Nakagawa (death sentenced) was a prominent doctor before he joined to it. Social problem. then, Prominent attorneys, etc. Some were old suckers but the vast majority members were youngsters. His well-to-do family will help him to rehabilitating, I;d bet.

their

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Then, heck, let's just let the dude go, he hasn't done anything wrong, lol.

No, he did. And he got charged with the things he did wrong, and convicted for him. But people on this thread would have him convicted for things he wasn't charged with. Japan's legal system is already a gong show, no need to make it even worse.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

17 Years on the run, plus 9 years in prison, he'll be out when he's 57, with more than a third of his life a complete waste. How is society served in this case? He'll be over retirement age 3 years after he gets out, won't have contributed enough to get a pension, and will be destitute until he dies.

Wouldn't it be more merciful just to put him to death rather than letting him out of prison in 9 years to scrabble for low paying jobs for 3 years then get retired and starve to death?

What a complete and utter waste of a human being. I realise that there has to be justice for those people who died, but surely there's some way to salvage what remains of this guy's life?

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

While I sympathize with those who want this idiot thrown down a hole foever, I must regrettably agree that he can only be sentenced for the crimes for which he was convicted.

The bad thing about being a country with the rule of law and not, say China, is that the law applies equally to everybody, even the scumbags.

The good thing about the rule of law is that it applies equally to everybody. That's why I can say anything I want and never fear that I'll get hauled in for questioning or disappeared.

I don't like this man and I hope that he dies homeless under a bridge, but a country built on Justice cannot just throw out the rule book because it doesn't like somebody. That is what makes us better than most of our neighbors.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Prosecutors had called for a sentence of 12 years. Six lay judges and three professional judges handed down the verdict in the trial which began on Jan 16.

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Jurors have to decide on evidences shown. They are professionals and so they don't decide on neither speculations nor assumptions. He turned in, not captured while he was still being a fugitive. He can collaborate with LEA now. But 9 years in jail is 9 years. No lynch mob prosecution in Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Thumbs up CGB Spender

Typical JT readers! Can't keep an analytical view while their desire for revenge takes over! 9 years is appropriate for the crimes that Hirata did. He didn't kill anyone. He was only a helper.

The prosecution wanted 12 years,in 2011 he turned himself in held in custody and was sentenced in 2014 to 9 , Yep The JT readers have no mathematical skills either .

100 thumbs up to me and CGB Spender

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

9 years sentence. He will be 57 when he finishes his sentence.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

even the 'simple' act of brainwashing people taking advantage of their vulnerability should be a crime with an adequately severe punishment. [aside from the few who are actually in death row] they're getting away way too lightly, including the fact that their 'colleagues' are actually still dispensing 'pearls of wisdom' since the cult hasn't even been disbanded. it's all truly very disgusting.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"He helped pull off a crime that killed thirteen people, and had everything "gone right" for Aum, would have killed thousands."

"Interesting, seeing as that's not a crime he was actually charged with. So I'm curious as to why you think he should have received punishment for a crime he wasn't get charged nor convicted for."

Then, heck, let's just let the dude go, he hasn't done anything wrong, lol.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

this guy conspired and executed the killing of several people

I'm glad you're not a lawyer.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

He helped pull off a crime that killed thirteen people, and had everything "gone right" for Aum, would have killed thousands.

Interesting, seeing as that's not a crime he was actually charged with. So I'm curious as to why you think he should have received punishment for a crime he wasn't get charged nor convicted for.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Nine years seem sufficient for the crimes he has been connected to. He has not been linked as an active psrticipant to any murders. Which is probably also why the prosecution only tried to get twelwe years. I would choose to trust the judges sentence, seeing as how I have no knowledge about this specific case, and even less of law practice in general. Even if the crimes are related to a much hated cult. I suggest everybody else do the same.

7 ( +6 / -0 )

He didn't kill anyone. He was only a helper.

He helped pull off a crime that killed thirteen people, and had everything "gone right" for Aum, would have killed thousands. So yes..... he deserves far more than nine years.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

So, CGB Spender, you are saying that if you help someone being murdered or hold the door closed while a girl is being raped you are less responsible than the person that actually did it? Helper or not, he is equally responsible for the deaths and injuries from all of the AUM attacks and should be punished accordingly. This is not guilt through association. This is accessory to mass-murder.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Typical JT readers! Can't keep an analytical view while their desire for revenge takes over! 9 years is appropriate for the crimes that Hirata did. He didn't kill anyone. He was only a helper.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Are you sheeting me! Only nine years? That's only half the time he spent on the run! His sentence should be the 17 years he spent on the run plus the term given by the judge!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

this guy conspired and executed the killing of several people

From the reports, it doesn't appear that he did any of that.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

That's it????? Really?? this guy conspired and executed the killing of several people, ran and hid from the law for nearly 20 years, and he gets ONLY 9 FRICKEN YEARS? Your really can get away with murder in this country!!

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

9 years is not nearly enough for the crimes having to do with Aum. In addition, why didn't he get anything for being on the run for 17 years? It is as if there is nothing wrong with that part.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Not nearly enough !

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Only 9 years? This is not fair for those victims.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

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