Sarin cult leader and six followers hanged in largest peacetime execution

08 July, 2018, 01:13 | Author: Carlos George
  • Shoko Asahara guru of the doomsday Aum Shinrikyo cult October 1 1990

The cult garnered global disrepute after its horrendous attack that killed 12 people on the scene at the Tokyo subway and injured 5,500 others. Thirteen cult members were then on death row.

The Justice Ministry said it could not confirm the reports, which cited unidentified sources.

Some people argue that Aum Shinrikyo and spinoff cults remain unsafe, so its imprisoned members should be kept alive and grilled for information.

A court-appointed psychiatrist suggested he might be faking insanity to avoid punishment. Subscribe to the Standard Group SMS service by texting "NEWS" to 22840.

Half-blind, with a shaggy hair and beard, Asahara was the key figure in the stunningly random and lethal attack targeting Tokyo commuters.

On March 20, 1995, cult members used umbrellas to puncture plastic bags, releasing sarin nerve gas inside subway cars.

They left punctured bags filled with liquid nerve agent on central train lines. The attack left victims vomiting and coughing up blood while others were blinded and paralysed.

Though concerns about the Aum had already been raised, the attack prompted a massive crackdown on the cult's headquarters and the arrest of Asahara and other group members.

The attack shocked Japan, which prides itself on low crime rates and its multicultural society.

Shoko Asahara was one of 13 cult members waiting for the final result of pending verdicts and is the first to be executed by hanging for the 1995 attack, as well as the murder of the Sakamoto family and production of a chemical weapon.

The law says an execution must take place within six months of the sentence being finalized by the courts, but in practice, it usually takes several years.

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This September 1995 photo shows cult leader Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.

The cult, whose name means "supreme truth", began in the 1980s as a spiritual group mixing Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, later working in elements of apocalyptic Christian prophesies.

The ministry said that Shoko Asahara and six members of his Aum Shinrikyo cult were hanged Friday.

The convicted also assaulted and murdered wayward followers and people who helped members leave the cult.

Aum Shinrikyo split into Hikari no Wa and Aleph in 2007.

The annual number of those executed in Japan normally does not exceed 10.

The cult claimed 10,000 members in Japan and 30,000 in Russian Federation.

Why has the execution been so delayed? The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2006.

His execution came as a slew of trials involving AUM members came to an end after more than 20 years with the Supreme Court's decision on January 18 to reject an appeal against a life sentence filed by Katsuya Takahashi, the last former member on trial.

More than 180 people were indicted for the attacks.

Against such a backdrop, he added that the executions must now pave the way for "broader discussions on whether to abolish or retain the death penalty".

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