Japan's doomsday cult leader behind gas attack is executed

Japan executes Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Shoko Asahara

Japan executes Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Shoko Asahara

Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara (center) sits in a police van following an interrogation in Tokyo on September 25, 1995. "I think they would find it regrettable that they could not have heard the news of this execution".

It goes without saying that the other six members of Aum Shinrikyo will equally face the same fate in the near future.

Despite the horror that persists over the Aum's subway attack and other crimes, some experts had warned against the execution of Asahara and his acolytes. The sarin gas attack also shattered Japan's public safety image.

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.

The government's human rights envoy, Baerbel Kofler, called the poison gas attack on rush-hour commuters in Tokyo's subway that killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000 a "terrible deed". The cult's activities in various parts of Japan sparked anxiety years after the sarin gas attack.

Matsumoto was 63 years old.He founded what was to later become known as Aum Shinrikyo around 1984.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said only that the Justice Ministry would make an announcement later Friday.

While the execution of Aum Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara and six of the group's former senior members may have drawn the curtain on a string of crimes that shocked Japan, it opens the door for society to engage in further debate about the death penalty.

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Shizue Takahashi, whose husband was a subway deputy station master who died in the attack, also expressed regret that six of Asahara's followers had been killed. However, ultimately, the death penalty was given to Shoko Asahara and others high in the chain of this organization.

He was sentenced to death after a lengthy prosecution during which he regularly delivered rambling and incoherent monologues in English and Japanese.

Inoue headed Aum's intelligence unit and was one of the few cult members who later turned against Asahara.

Aum Shinrikyo is believed to still have thousands of followers.

There has been strong public support for the Aum convicts to be put to death. "Now, I can pay a visit to her grave and tell her of this".

Japanese media broke into regular programming to report the news. The followers of the three groups total about 1,650 in Japan and about 460 in Russian Federation, while the groups hold more than 1 billion yen ($9 million) in assets, according to the agency.

And the execution of Asahara's followers risks elevating them to "martyrs" in the eyes of remaining cult adherents, warned Taro Takimoto, a lawyer for relatives of cultists, in an interview with AFP earlier this year.

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