The Supreme Court in Japan has upheld a lower court ruling to clear the former member of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, who was accused of transporting explosive materials used in the 1995 parcel bombing of a metropolitan government building, which left one employee seriously injured.
Kikuchi, 46, was arrested in June 2012 after 17 years on the run and sentenced to five years in prison.
The prosecution then brought the case before the country’s Supreme Court only to see their appeal dismissed with the top court’s panel of five justices unanimously concluding that Kikuchi was unaware that the materials would be used to manufacture an explosive for a terror attack.
The Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult was founded by Shoko Asahara in 1987. According to various estimates, its membership varied between 30,000 and 50,000, including 10,000 members in Russia where the cult was trying to engage in active missionary and commercial activities.
In 1994, Aum staged a sarin gas attack in Matsumoto killing seven people, and in March 1995 its members carried out the deadly Tokyo subway sarin gas attack that poisoned over 6,000 people, leaving 13 dead.
About 30 senior Aum members were arrested and some of them, including Shoko Asahara himself, were handed death sentences, none of which have yet been carried out.
Naoko Kikuchi and two other leading Aum members went into hiding.
On January 1, 2012, Makoto Hirata surrendered to the police. Kikuchi was arrested in June 2012 and a third man, Katsaya Takahashi, was detained shorty after.
Hirata was sentenced to nine years behind bars, while Takahashi was handed a life sentence.