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Sunday, April 19, 1998 Published at 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Japanese cult founder in custody

Toshiyasu Ouchi, a Supreme Turth cult member, wanted in Japan on a murder charge

One of the founding members of the notorious Japanese cult, Aum Shinri Kyo, or Supreme Truth, is in police custody in Japan two days after being arrested in Cyprus.

Toshiyasu Ouchi was deported from Cyprus to Japan via Paris after his arrest by the island's police in a dawn raid at the hotel where he was staying in the southern town of Larnaca.

He was preparing to flee Cyprus with two Russian women.

[ image: The cult leader was led to the Paris-bound plane with an armed guard]
The cult leader was led to the Paris-bound plane with an armed guard
Toshiyasu Ouchi, 45, is wanted in Japan for his suspected involvement in the murder of another member of the Supreme Truth cult, who had tried to escape from the sect's commune near Mount Fuji in 1989.

Members of Aum Shinri Kyo are linked to a series of attacks on the Tokyo underground in 1995.

Twelve people were killed, and more than 3,000 others were poisoned through exposure to the nerve agent Sarin.

The Supreme Truth leader, Shoko Asahara, is on trial on 17 charges.

Russian law enforcement authorities have been helping Japan's investigations of Mr Ouchi, who led efforts to win Russian followers and was involved in establishing the cult's Moscow branch in 1992.

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