Ringleader of Tokyo sarin nerve agent terror attack executed

08 July, 2018, 01:15 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Shoko Asahara guru of the doomsday Aum Shinrikyo cult October 1 1990

Six more members of the cult are still awaiting execution.

Asahara was killed alongside six of his followers, who had all spent more than a decade on death row.

Shoko Asahara was hanged Friday morning for masterminding a series of deadly crimes including a 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

Five cult members boarded three different trains at the Tokyo subway station during rush hour in March 1995, aiming to kill all on board.

The cult garnered worldwide disrepute after its horrendous attack that killed 12 people on the scene at the Tokyo subway and injured 5,500 others. The death toll makes it the worst terror attack in Japanese history, according to The Guardian. The cult had a significant public profile and its members even stood for public elections in Japan. It continues to exist, but in a much diminished form.

Amnesty International criticized Japan on Friday for the executions, saying capital punishment does not deliver justice for the victims of crimes committed by the doomsday cult.

Asahara, who founded Aum in 1987, said that the United States would attack Japan and turn it into a nuclear wasteland, He also said he had traveled forward in time to 2006 and talked to people then about what World War III had been like.

She said the crime affected not only Japan but also sowed fear overseas.

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"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", said Shizue Takahashi, a victims' group representative and widow of a Tokyo Metro employee who died in the sarin attack.

The investigation into the attack uncovered more doomsday preparations, weapons arsenals and multiple killings by Aum.

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 remaining adherents. Members included graduates of Japan's top universities, who were promised that they would survive a coming apocalypse. The cult adopted many Buddhist and Hindu ideas, but in the early '90s, Asahar claimed to be Christ and started leaning into Christian apocalyptic prophesies.

He used a mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and yoga to draw followers.

He declined to comment on media reports that some of Asahara's followers were also hanged.

"The death system is very much criticized by the worldwide community, and there are still issues involving those seeking retrial or death sentences for those suspected to be mentally incompetent", Ogawara said.

Following reports of the executions, Joyu reiterated his apology to people affected by AUM but said he is no longer part of the original cult.

The "button room", where three prison officers each press a button at the same time to open the trap door to execute a prisoner, is seen at the Tokyo Detention Center in Tokyo, Japan, in this undated handout file photo released by the Justice Ministry on August 27, 2010. The attacks carried out by Aum were despicable and those responsible deserve to be punished.

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