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
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003