Cult leader in Tokyo sarin attack executed along with 6 followers

Cult leader in Tokyo sarin attack executed along with 6 followers

Cult leader in Tokyo sarin attack executed along with 6 followers

Aum Shinrikyo was founded by Shoko Asahara of Japan in 1987 and sprang into global focus in 1995, when its adepts sprayed the nerve agent Sarin in the Tokyo subway.

Japanese media reports say Asahara, who has been on death row for masterminding the 1995 deadly Tokyo subway gassing and other crimes, has been executed. He was among 13 people placed on death row in connection with the string of crimes perpetrated by the doomsday cult.

Twelve other members of Aum Shinrikyo were sentenced to death for their roles in the Tokyo attack.

"When I think of those who died because of them, it was a pity (my husband's) parents and my parents could not hear the news of this execution", she said.

"The fear, pain and sorrow of the victims, survivors and their families - because of the heinous cult crimes - must have been so severe, and that is beyond my imagination", Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa told a news conference.

AUM Shinrikyo renamed itself Aleph in January 2000.

He was the leader of the 40,000-strong Aum Shinrikyo cult, which sneaked plastic bags full of sarin nerve gas onto packed subway cars and burst them during the Monday morning rush hour.

He was also convicted of the murders of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, who had been helping parents seeking to free their children of the cult's control, and his wife and their 1-year-old son in November 1989.

On 20 March 1995, cult members released the Sarin on the Tokyo subway.

On June 27, 1994, members sprayed sarin gas from a custom-made vehicle in a residential area of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, about 100 miles west of Tokyo.

Japan's Justice Ministry announced the executions of Asahara, 63, and his followers. The initial death sentence in 2004 became final after his defense team could not file an appeal citing his mental state.

The picture above shows Aum Shinrikyo members outside during the raid.

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.

They said his death could trigger the naming of a new cult leader, possibly his second son, and his followers could be elevated to the status of "martyrs" among the remaining adherents.

That attack, which involved a refrigerator truck releasing the gas to be dispersed by the wind through a neighbourhood, failed to kill the judges but killed eight other people and injured hundreds.

Asahara was born Chizuo Matsumoto in 1955 on the southwestern island of Kyushu and changed his name in the 1980s, when the Aum cult was being developed.

At its peak, the cult had at least 10,000 members in Japan and overseas, including graduates of some of Japan's most elite universities.

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