Japan doomsday cult leader executed 23 years after Tokyo sarin attack

06 Juillet, 2018, 12:47 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Shoko Asahara guru of the doomsday Aum Shinrikyo cult October 1 1990

Doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara and several followers were executed on Friday for their roles in a deadly 1995 gas attack on the Tokyo subways and other crimes, Japanese media reported.Members of the "doomsday" cult.

"Seven Aum members were executed, they include Shoko Asahara", a justice ministry official told AFP.

Shoko Asahara (born Chizuo Matsumoto), along with 10 high-ranking Aum Shinrikyo members, were sentenced to death in a trial that ended this January.

The reasons behind the sarin gas attack remain an enigma.

Asahara and 12 of his followers were sentenced to death and five others received life sentences.

He had been on death row for over a decade for the attack that killed 13 people and injured thousands more.

"This gave me a peace of mind", Kiyoe Iwata, who lost her daughter in the subway attack, told Japanese broadcaster NHK.

His hanging Friday was the first execution of any of the 13 cult members on death row for the attack and other crimes.

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They targeted underground lines, including those passing through Kasumigaseki and Nagatacho, home to the Japanese government. The attack shocked Japan and remains the country's worst ever act of terrorism.

Asahara was captured two months later, dragged out of a hidden compartment in a ceiling where he had holed up to evade arrest.

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.

With his shaggy hair and beard, the half-blind Asahara was the key figure in the stunningly random and lethal attack targeting Tokyo commuters.

According to The Associated Press, the cult leader "used a mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and yoga to draw followers". They took part in freakish rituals, such as drinking his bathwater and wearing electrical caps they believed synchronised their brain waves with Asahara's. Asahara hand-picked some as close aides.

They made and bought conventional weapons in and outside Japan, while the scientists he had recruited developed and manufactured sarin, VX and other deadly chemical and biological weapons.

In Japan, death sentences are not carried out until the verdict against all accused and accomplices are final, with no pending appeals left against any of the group.

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