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09 July 2018, 06:14 | Darnell Patrick
Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara had been on death row for masterminding the 1995 deadly Tokyo subway gassing and other crimes
Shoko Asahara, the bearded, self-proclaimed guru who had recruited scientists and others to his cult, was found two months later, hiding in a compartment in a building ceiling.
The images of bodies, many in business suits, sprawled across subway platforms stunned Japan, and triggered public safety steps such as the removal of non-transparent rubbish bins that remain in force to this day.
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.
Asahara and 12 of his followers were sentenced to death and five others received life sentences.
Since those proceedings finished earlier this year, the days of the Aum Shinrikyo members had been numbered, even as opponents of the death penalty attempted to block the executions. Six other cult members were also hanged. Other members from bottom left to right, Yoshihiro Inoue, Tomomitsu Nimi, and Kiyohide Hayakawa. 13 were sentenced to death. The date of their executions is not known. Her daughter was killed in the 1995 subway attack.
Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa read out the names of the seven at a news conference and said what they had done was "extremely atrocious". "I wanted (cult members) to confess more about the incident, so it's a pity that we can not hear their account anymore".
"The attacks carried out by Aum were despicable and those responsible deserve to be punished".
The move drew sharp criticism from some lawmakers as well as Amnesty International, which called capital punishment "the ultimate denial of human rights".
The Aum Shinrikyo was founded by Asahara, who was virtually blind, in 1987 and mixed Buddhist and Hindu meditation with apocalyptic teachings. Asahara proclaimed that he would take the sins of the world upon himself to save his devoted followers in preparation for the coming third world war he predicted the United States was about to start.
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Shoko Asahara, who masterminded the attack in which 13 people died and more than 6,000 others fell ill, was hanged at a detention centre, reports said, citing justice ministry sources. The attack killed 13 people and injured 5,500.
Aleph, a successor group to Aum Shinrikyo, is still involved in a court case over settlements to the victims of the 1995 and other attacks.
Until his execution, there was little information about Asahara.
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. The killing was eventually linked to the cult.
This photo from 1995 shows subway passengers affected by sarin nerve gas being carried into a hospital.
The attack killed eight people and injured more than 100.
They left punctured bags filled with liquid nerve agent on central train lines.
Police leave an Aum Shinrikyo compound in the small village of Kamikuishiki at the foot of Mount Fuji on March 28, 1995.
A Japanese doomsday cult leader who masterminded the worst terror attack in the country's history has been executed by hanging.
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