Japan doomsday cult leader executed for sarin gas attack

Asahara who has been on death row for masterminding the 1995 deadly Tokyo subway gassing and oth

The attack shocked Japan and remains the country's worst ever act of terrorism.

He was on death row for about 14 years.

The cult's founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and 6 of his disciples were executed on Friday morning.

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.

People in Japan expressed relief Friday that the executions had finally taken place for the doomsday cult leader responsible for the shocking nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway two decades ago.

The executions of the 63-year-old Asahara and the six cult members were announced by the Justice Ministry after they had been hanged, as is the practice in Japan.

Those affected by the attack welcomed the execution.

Unlike the USA, where execution dates are set in advance, prisoners in Japan are executed with very little warning and are told they are going to die on the morning of their execution - usually about an hour before.

"When I heard the news, I reacted calmly".

Asahara recruited well-educated professionals such as doctors and lawyers to help run his cult.

Earlier in the day, Chaief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga would only confirm the execution of Asahara and said Japanese police were taking every measure to prevent retaliation following the execution. They included three scientists who led the production of the sarin gas and a man who drove a getaway vehicle.

On June 27, 1994, seven people were killed and more than 500 hospitalized after Aum Shinrikyo released sarin gas from a truck by driving slowly around an apartment complex in Matsumoto, Nagano prefecture.

A Japanese government spokesman has confirmed the execution of doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara.

The trials against the cult members only wrapped up in January this year after the Supreme Court upheld the verdict against one member sentenced to life in prison.

Japan forgoes executing death row inmates if an accomplice is still on trial.

Tokyo District Court first handed down the death penalty to Asahara in 2004, . and the Supreme Court finalized that decision in 2006.

AUM evolved from a yoga school established by Asahara in 1984 and had about 1,400 live-in followers and over 10,000 lay followers at one point.

Asahara was one of seven members of the cult hanged this week. "I regret that is no longer possible".

"I don't think it's possible to ever know the truth", he told Japanese broadcaster NHK. 191 members of the cult, which counted thousands of members at its peak, have been indicted for various offenses.

In 2016, Russian police carried out several raids against suspected members in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

His followers claimed their guru, who dressed in Chinese-style pyjama tunics, had extra-sensory powers and could levitate for hours at a time.

According to Japan News (The Yomiuri Shimbun), "These cases, which symbolize crime in the Heisei era, must be resolved before the era comes to a close." .

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