Japanese police turned away one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives when he tried to surrender at Tokyo police headquarters on New Year’s Eve after nearly 17 years on the run, reports said yesterday.
A police officer at the main entrance of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police thought it was a bad joke when Makoto Hirata, a former member of the Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult, responsible for the 1995 nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway, showed up.
According to major media, he approached the officer at about 11:35pm on Saturday and said: “I am Makoto Hirata. I am turning myself in.”
However, the officer dismissed him as a fake and urged Hirata to go to a local police station about 700m away, said the Asahi Shimbun, the Yomiuri Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun.
Hirata, who is wanted over a 1995 kidnapping, then told to the officer: “I am Hirata on the special wanted list.”
The officer did not consult with his colleagues and again told Hirata to head to the Marunouchi police station, where he arrived 15 minutes later and was arrested, local media said.
Hirata’s hair was longer than in his photos from the mid-1990s, but his major facial features and body shape had not significantly changed, the Asahi said.
Hirata also claims to have called a police hotline recently about his case, but was not taken seriously, national broadcaster NHK said.
He turned himself in after nearly 17 years on the run for his alleged role in a plot to kidnap a man in 1995 and conspiring with others to hold him in confinement and inject him with a chemical that killed him.
Hirata reportedly said he wanted to turn himself in after seeing the devastation caused by last year’s earthquake and tsunami.
He said he could come forward because the statute of limitations had expired for a 1995 shooting of the chief of the National Police Agency.
Hirata reportedly told investigators that he wanted to avoid a wrongful arrest and claims to have no role in the shooting, despite earlier police suspicion that he was involved.