Woman who shielded Aum Shinrikyo terrorist turns herself in

A Japanese woman who claimed to have lived with a senior member of the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo turned herself in and was arrested on Tuesday for helping the fugitive to evade the police.

Akemi Saito, who was also a member of the cult, gave herself up after Makoto Hirata gave himself up to police on New Year's Eve. She had helped Hirata to avoid police capture for close to 17 years, Today Online reports. Aum Shinrikyo is the cult responsible for the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subways.

Hirata has thus far refused to explain how he was able to remain underground for such a long time despite being one of the country's most wanted fugitives. He is suspected of involvement in a kidnapping related to the cult and murder in 1995.

Later that year, the cult released sarin nerve gas in the subways of Tokyo, which killed 13 people and injured more than 6,000. According to Saito's lawyer, Taro Takimoto, Saito lived with Hirata most of the time that he was on the run. Police have charged her with aiding a fugitive.

Takimoto said that Saito should be considered as Hirata's common law wife, which would make her exempt from the charge.