Japanese frantic for gas arrest

FROM RICHARD LLOYD PARRY

in Tokyo

Japanese police yesterday removed two tons of chemicals from the headquarters of the Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth) sect, suspected of engineering the nerve gas attack which killed 10 commuters and injured 5,500 on the Tokyo subway on Monday.

Eleven hundred officers, some with protective clothing and carrying caged canaries, continued their search of prefabricated buildings in the village of Kamiku-Isshiki on Mount Fuji, 65 miles west of Tokyo.

On Wednesday, the police discovered nerve gas solvent, 22lb of gold and £4.9 m in cash. Yesterday two tons of chemicals were removed in vats and drums, including sodium fluoride, phosphorous dichloride, and isopropyl alcohol - all used in the manufacture of the Sarin gas which was released on Monday.

Six sect followers, found apparently drugged and locked up in the compound, were taken to hospital yesterday.

A further 600 drums, each containing 200 litres of unspecified materials, were seized from a warehouse in the nearby city of Kofu. The police also found atropine, an antidote to Sarin, which was carried by Allied troops during the Gulf war.

The investigation was suspended when police discovered cyanide compounds spilling out of their paper containers. It is expected to be resumed today when chemical experts will be called in.

Members of Aum Shinri Kyo offered no resistance. A sect spokesman claimed that the confiscated chemicals were used for welding and the processing of computer chips.

No one has been charged, but four days into their investigation, police confirmed that they wished to question the sect's leader, Shoko Asahara, aged 40.

The police appear to be proceeding with characteristic caution and assiduousness. Fifty thousand leaflets were handed out to commuters yesterday, appealing for witnesses to come forward.

There was a flurry of excitement yesterday after a male cult member was arrested after driving through a red light while fleeing from police. However what appeared to be a gas mask turned out to be an air purifier and goggles. Takaji Kunimatsu, Commissioner General of the National Police Agency, announced that extra police were being deployed "An arrest," he said, "would be the best thing to ease public concerns."

Mr Asahara has not been seen since Monday's attack, but has continued to broadcast to Japan via a Russian radio station. The sect had been paying almost $2,000 a day for daily three-hour broadcasts beamed fromVladivostok. Yesterday, Russia's state-owned Mayak channel said the broadcasts had been stopped.

Mr Asahara's lawyer refused to disclose his whereabouts, but said that he would answer questions. The sect has denied involvement in the atrocity, insisting it has been framed by "government agencies".

The cult, which preaches a hybrid of Buddhism, Taoism and yogic meditation, claims 10,000 members in Japan, Russia and the US. It has come under suspicion for a number of crimes, including a release of Sarin which killed at least seven people in the city of Matsumoto in June 1994.

Two kidnappings have also been linked to the sect.

On 28 February, a 68-year-old man whose sister was attempting to defect from the sect, disappeared in Tokyo. Witnesses reported seeing him bundled into a car. A lawyer, involved in proceedings against the cult, also disappeared, with his wife and child.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'