Japanese cult leader and followers executed

Japanese cult leader and followers executed

Japanese cult leader and followers executed

Sources say the leader of a doomsday cult that carried out the deadly subway attack in Tokyo in 1995 has been executed.

Asahara, 63, a pudgy, partially blind yoga instructor, was sentenced to hang in 2004 on 13 charges, including the subway gas attacks and other crimes that killed at least a dozen people.

The cult's most notorious crime was the release of sarin gas on Tokyo subways in 1995. The ensuing raid on the cult's compound near Mount Fuji riveted Japan, as 2,000 police officers approached with a canary in a bird cage. The 12 others are former followers who acted on behalf of their guru. Two major newspapers issued extra editions and handed them out at train stations.

Shizue Takahashi, whose subway worker husband was killed in the attack, told reporters she felt Asahara's execution was entirely appropriate.

Iwata said she has always wondered why it had to be her daughter.

"I've been in pain for years". A further six cult followers remain on death row. They amassed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons to carry out his vision of overthrowing the government to save the world from a doomsday he said was coming.

The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun via Getty ImagesJUSTICE MINISTERJapan's Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa arrives at the prime minister's residence on July 6.

The seven executions in one day were the most since Japan began releasing information on executions in 1998.

The executions took place at a Tokyo detention house on Friday morning.

The hangings are the largest simultaneous execution in Japan since 1911, when 11 people were hanged for plotting to assassinate the emperor.


Tomomasa Nakagawa, a doctor also executed Friday, and several other cultists broke into the Sakamotos' apartment late at night, strangled them to death and buried them in the mountains.

There has been strong public support for the Aum convicts to be put to death.

Six other people are still sentenced to die in connection to the 1995 attack and other Aum Shinrikyo crimes.

Five Aum Shinrikyo members boarded subway cars on three different lines in central Tokyo during rush hour, carrying plastic bags filled with sarin.

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

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.

With their deaths, Japan will now have to grapple with the aftermath of unanswered questions over the crimes - with no longer any chance of hearing explanations directly from Asahara or the six others. They had requested his mental treatment a retrial.

Asahara told his followers he is the incarnation of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and regeneration, and urged them to entrust themselves and their assets to Shiva and himself for life, according to prosecutors who indicted him.

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

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