Seven members of Japanese cult executed for Tokyo sarin attack

06 Juillet, 2018, 14:57 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Seven members of Japanese cult executed for Tokyo sarin attack

Shoko Asahara, the charismatic, virtually-blind leader of the Aum Shinrikyo sect, has been on death row for more than a decade over the attack, which shocked the world and prompted a massive crackdown on the cult. Prisoners often only learn hours before that they are to be killed.

She said Japan should boost security measures to prevent similar terrorist attacks.

Subway passengers affected by sarin nerve gas in the central Tokyo subway trains are carried into St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo on March 20, 1995. "I think they would find it regrettable that they could not have heard the news of this execution".

Family members of attack victims expressed relief.

Shoko Asahara was one of 13 cult members waiting for the final result of pending verdicts and is the first to be executed by hanging for the 1995 attack, as well as the murder of the Sakamoto family and production of a chemical weapon.

As a result, The Japan Times notes that the cult leader's death "leaves several critical questions unanswered, because even during his trial, Asahara never explained the actual motivations for the crimes".

Born Chizuo Matsumoto in 1955 on the southwestern island of Kyushu, Asahara changed his name in the 1980s, when the Aum cult was being developed.

"Since I have an acquaintance who was injured in the attack, I remember it well".

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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. They punctured the bags with the sharpened tips of theirs umbrellas and left them on baggage racks or the floor to seep the deadly gas into the carriages.

At its peak, the cult had at least 10,000 members in Japan and overseas, including graduates of some of Japan's most elite universities.

In late 1996, Ashara admitted responsibility for the sarin attack but said he was not personally involved in the crime, saying he had been "instructed by God" to shoulder the blame.

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.

Aum renamed itself Aleph in 2000 and two splinter groups have since been formed.

His execution was delayed due to ongoing cases against his co-conspirators, the last of whom was arrested in 2012.

Government surveillance of Hikari no Wa was lifted past year, but Aleph remains under official scrutiny.

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