Mastermind of deadly sarin gas attack in Tokyo executed

Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara had been on death row for masterminding the 1995 deadly Tokyo subway gassing

Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara had been on death row for masterminding the 1995 deadly Tokyo subway gassing

Asahara and five of the six executed were implicated in the subway attack, which occured during the morning rush hour of March 20, 1995 when members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult punctured plastic bags to release sarin nerve gas inside subway cars, killing 13 people and sickening more than 6,000.

Shoko Asahara, leader of the Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, has been executed in Japan by hanging.

Their other crimes include the 1989 murders of an anti-Aum lawyer and his wife and 1-year-old baby and a 1994 sarin attack in the city of Matsumoto in central Japan, which killed seven people and injured more than 140. A further six cult followers remain on death row.

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

"Their death penalties had been finalized after sufficient deliberations at courts", Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said at a press conference in the afternoon, adding that she made careful considerations before ordering the executions on Tuesday.

"I've been in pain for years", he told AFP.

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As the cult grew, the families of members began to raise the alarm, and complaints of brainwashing and abuse within Aum Shinrikyo became more common.

FILE - In this September 25, 1995, file photo, Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara, center, sits in a police van following an interrogation in Tokyo.

Amnesty International lamented the executions, saying that these failed to deliver justice and is "the ultimate denial of human rights".

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.

Shizue Takahashi, whose subway worker husband was killed in the attack, told reporters she felt Asahara's execution was entirely appropriate. At its peak, Asahara had tens of thousands of followers worldwide.

Chizuo Matsumoto, the cult's leader who went by the name Shoko Asahara, was the first to be hanged, media said as it broke into regular programming to report the news.

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On 20 March 1995, cult members released the Sarin on the Tokyo subway. Sarin, a nerve gas, was originally developed by the Nazis.

Dozens of Aum Shinrikyo members were arrested after months of raids by police on hundreds of locations across Japan.

During his eight-year trial, Asahara talked incoherently, occasionally babbling in broken English, and never acknowledged his responsibility or offered meaningful explanations.

Cult members have said they believed Asahara's prophesy that an apocalypse was coming and they alone would survive it.

The cult claimed to have 10,000 members in Japan and 30,000 in Russian Federation but has disbanded.

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