Published: Fri, July 06, 2018

Leader Of Japanese Cult Aum Shinrikyo Executed For 1995 Attack

Leader Of Japanese Cult Aum Shinrikyo Executed For 1995 Attack

Shoko Asahara, the leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult that carried out a deadly sarin attack on Tokyo's subway in 1995, was executed on Friday, local media reported.

In June 1994, the cult spread sarin gas in Matsumoto in central Japan, killing eight people and injuring more than 140 others, in an attack targeting residents who were protesting the cult's presence in their neighborhood and court officials handling their legal disputes.

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

Even before the attack, in 1989, lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, who opposed the cult, his wife and baby boy were murdered by cult members.

Executions are rare in Japan but surveys show most people support the death sentence.

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.

Members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult left sarin, a deadly nerve agent, in plastic bags on subway cars and poked the bags with umbrellas before fleeing.

Minoru Kariya, whose father was tortured to death by cult members in 1995 as he tried to get his brother to leave the cult, didn't see the point of keeping Asahara alive and wondering when his execution might be. "Initially I heard some explosions had occurred and it was shocking", a woman in her 50s said.


Asahara guided the attack, according to testimony by his right-hand man, Yoshihiro Inoue, who also was executed Friday.

"Justice demands accountability but also respect for everyone's human rights".

Asahara founded Aum Shinrikyo in 1984 and quickly attracted thousands of disciples, combining forecasts of a coming apocalypse - which would come after the United States attacked Japan and turned it into a nuclear wasteland - with traditional religious teachings and new age tactics. "The death penalty can never deliver this as it is the ultimate denial of human rights". "So I don't think the story is completely over", she added.

"We should have them talk until they die a natural death so that they help prevent a recurrence", he said.

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

More than 20 years of trials involving Aum members came to an end in January 2018 when Japan's supreme court upheld the life sentence of Katsuya Takahashi.

Two days after the attack police raided the compounds of the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

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