The final suspect in the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday after a trial lasting three months.
Katsuya Takahashi, a 57-year-old former member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult, had denied being involved in unleashing sarin nerve gas on the underground rail system, in an attack that sparked rush hour chaos in the capital, killing 13 people and injuring thousands more.
"I did not know the thing released was sarin," said Takahashi, who was charged with murder and other crimes. "I didn't intend to kill people."
The verdict at the Tokyo District Court was handed down by six lay and three professional judges.
Police captured Takahashi in June 2012, bringing to an end the hunt for those thought to be behind the coordinated release of the Nazi-developed gas.
He was also accused of conspiring with other members to send an explosive to then-Tokyo Gov Yukio Aoshima in 1995, an incident that injured a Tokyo government official.
Takahashi, who was on the run for more than 17 years, was a one-time guard for Aum leader Shoko Asahara, and allegedly served as a driver when cult members released the gas.
Asahara, a partially blind guru who preached a blend of Buddhist and Hindu dogma mixed with apocalyptic messages, developed an obsession with sarin, becoming paranoid that his enemies would attack him with it.
He was arrested at a commune near Mount Fuji two months after the attack on Tokyo and sentenced to hang, having been convicted of crimes resulting in multiple deaths. He remains on death row, along with 12 other cult members.
During Takahashi's trial, several death-row inmates testified.© Japan Today/AFP