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Kidnapped Son of Cult Leader Found

January 23, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Police on Sunday found the kidnapped son of a former cult guru who is on trial for the 1995 sarin gassing on Tokyo subways.

The 7-year-old boy had been abducted Friday by several people believed to be members of the Aum Shinri Kyo cult.

It was unclear why the child, the son of Shoko Asahara, was kidnapped. Japanese media reports said it was probably related to infighting within the cult.

Police found the boy in a lodging house in the resort town of Hakone, 54 miles southwest of Tokyo. He and an older member of the cult were staying there under false names, said Toshiharu Yoneyama, an official with the Kanagawa state police.

Police arrested 29-year-old Akira Tone on charges of using a false name. They did not have enough evidence to arrest him on kidnapping charges, Yoneyama said.

Authorities tracked down the child after staff members at the lodging house told police they thought the missing boy was among their guests.

Yoneyama said the boy, whose name was not released, was ``well and has no problems.″

Six people, including Asahara’s 16-year-old daughter, broke into the facility where the Asahara’s son was living in Asahimura, 60 miles northeast of Tokyo. They assaulted two women there before making off with the child.

On Friday and Saturday, police arrested two of the intruders. Yoneyama said authorities did not know if Tone was among the six.

Asahara, who was recently replaced by Tatsuko Muraoka as head of the cult, is on trial on charges of masterminding the gas attack that killed 12 people and sickened thousands.

The cult recently changed its name to Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in an apparent gesture to ward off a planned crackdown by authorities.

Update hourly