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09 July 2018, 06:15 | Devin Moran
Doomsday cult leader, followers executed for 1995 sarin attack in Tokyo subway
Cult leader Shoko Asahara was executed alongside six of his followers.
The 1995 subway attack was the most audacious.
Yuji Ogawara, who heads a lawyers' group against the death penalty at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said the executions do not bring closure to Aum's crimes.
The police and the Public Security Intelligence Agency are gathering intelligence and closely monitoring followers who could possibly attempt to retrieve the bodies of Asahara and the six others.
With their deaths, Japan will now have to grapple with the aftermath of unanswered questions over the crimes - with no longer any chance of hearing explanations directly from Asahara or the six others. The others are Tomomasa Nakagawa, Tomomitsu Niimi, Kiyohide Hayakawa, Yoshihiro Inoue, Seiichi Endo and Masami Tsuchiya, according to Japanese Justice Minister Yoko Kawakami.
He was among 13 people placed on death row in connection with the series of crimes perpetrated by the doomsday cult.
Executions in Japan are carried out in secret, with no advance warning given to the prisoner, their family or legal representatives, according to Amnesty International.
"I wanted the others to talk more about what they did as lessons for anti-terrorism measures in this country, and I wanted the authorities and experts to learn more from them", she told a televised news conference.
Atsushi Sakahara, who was injured in the attack, welcomed the executions.
Japan's justice minister, who approved the hangings, said she doesn't take executions lightly but felt they were justified in this case because of the unprecedentedly seriousness of the crimes. "I wanted (cult members) to confess more about the incident, so it's a pity that we can not hear their account anymore".
The German government has described the death penalty as "inhumane and cruel" after Japan hanged seven members of the doomsday cult that poisoned commuters in a deadly subway attack in 1995.
"Justice demands accountability but also respect for everyone's human rights".
Asahara, who founded Aum in 1987, said that the United States would attack Japan and turn it into a nuclear wasteland.
They said his death could trigger the naming of a new cult leader, possibly his second son, and his followers could be elevated to the status of "martyrs" among the remaining adherents.
The Yomiuri ShimbunAfter the Aum Supreme Truth cult changed its name in 2000 to Aleph, it further split in May 2007 into a main faction called Aleph and a splinter group named Hikari no Wa (The Circle of Rainbow Light) due to a confrontation among members over the path on which the cult should operate.
Matsumoto, also known under the alias Shoko Asahara, is reportedly the first of 13 individuals scheduled to be executed for their roles in orchestrating the 1995 sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway. All told, 13 people died as a result of the attack.
Aum Shinrikyo followers chant before a portrait of guru Shoko Asahara on July 19, 1999, at Aum's Adachi office in Tokyo.
It is extremely complex to label the religious fundamentals of Aum Shinrikyo. With Asahara's execution, he hoped this fear would go away.
He was also convicted of the murders of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, who had been helping parents seeking to free their children of the cult's control, and his wife and their 1-year-old son in November 1989.
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