Japan's doomsday cult leader behind gas attack is executed

Japan's doomsday cult leader behind gas attack is executed

More than 20 years of trials involving Aum members, including Asahara, came to an end in January 2018, when the life sentence of Katsuya Takahashi for his part in the 1995 subway sarin gas attack was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Several of those executed Friday may have had requests for retrials pending, Amnesty International said.

The followers executed were Masami Tsuchiya, 53; Seiichi Endo, 58; Tomomitsu Niimi, 54; Yoshihiro Inoue, 48; Tomomasa Nakagawa, 55; and Kiyohide Hayakawa, 68.

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa told a news conference the awful deeds of Aum Shinrikyo "plunged people not only in Japan but in other countries as well into deadly fear and shook society to its core". The date of their executions is not known.

The family members of some victims said on Friday they were disappointed the government did not give them advance warning of the executions. They were hanged in four prisons in Tokyo and three other places, spread out so the executions could be done at once.

Relatives of those killed in the attack, and others who were injured welcomed the executions. Numerous victim's families were not happy they were not informed of the decision and wanted more answers related to the attack prior to the executions. "The attacks carried out by Aum were despicable, and those responsible deserve to be punished".

"Justice demands accountability but also respect for everyone's human rights".

The death penalty is only used for serious cases of murder and is carried out by hanging.

Asahara founded Aum Shinrikyo ("Supreme Truth" in English) in 1984.

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Virtually blind, he was seen as a charismatic speaker who cloaked himself in mysticism to draw recruits including doctors and scientists to the doomsday cult he developed in the 1980s.

The sarin gas was released by members of Aum Shinrikyo. The attack killed 13 people and injured 5,500.

"I believe imposing a death penalty on those whose crimes are extremely grave and atrocious is inevitable", Kamimawa, the justice minister, said on Friday. "I would like to work on compensation and to make sure such crimes never happen again".

Asahara pleaded not guilty and never testified, only muttering and making incoherent remarks in court during the eight years of his trial, according to Reuters. Joyu left Aleph in 2006.

Until his execution, there was little information about Asahara. With Asahara's execution, he hoped this fear would go away. Sakamoto was preparing a case against Aum Shinrikyo on behalf of parents who wanted to free their children from the group's control. The killing was eventually linked to the cult. Thirteen cult members were then on death row.

The cult was implicated in other horrifying crimes.

A commuter is treated by an emergency medical team after being exposed to sarin gas fumes in the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995.

The cult carried out five coordinated attacks, releasing the deadly poison gas sarin on three lines of the Tokyo Metro during rush hour. The cult group made sarin, a deadly nerve agent in the facility. Japanese media posted updates as each cult member was executed. At the same time, he warned lawyers they would die if they continued questioning Aum Shinrikyo members. The country has the custom of not executing criminals on death row until the sentences of their accomplices are finalized. By 2006, he had exhausted the appeals process.

Why has the execution been so delayed?

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