Updated: 03/08/2014 01:53 | By Agence France-Presse

Japan Aum cultist sentenced to 9 years in prison

A former member of the Aum Supreme Truth was sentenced to nine years in prison for abduction on Friday, 19 years after the doomsday cult launched a nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway, court officials said.


Japan Aum cultist sentenced to 9 years in prison

This court sketch drawing by Masato Yamashita shows Makoto Hirata (2nd L), a member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, on January 16, 2014 at the Tokyo district court - by Masato Yamashita

The Tokyo District Court handed the jail term to Makoto Hirata, 48, who turned himself in at a police station two years ago after spending much of the last two decades on the run.

He was one of the final fugitives who went into hiding after the rush-hour release of sarin in March 1995 killed 13 people, sickened thousands and sowed panic among Tokyo's millions of subway commuters.

"The impact of his long term on the run on communities is not small," presiding judge Hiroaki Saito told the court, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Hirata, who was not charged in connection with the subway attack, was tried over his role in the kidnapping of a 68-year-old man who had sheltered his sister after she escaped from the cult.

The victim 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.

Thirteen cult members have been sentenced to death for the subway attack and other incidents, including Aum guru Shoko Asahara.

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