Mastermind behind 1995 Japan sarin-gas attack executed

Japan executes Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Shoko Asahara

The former leader of Aum Shinrikyo, a doomsday cult that killed 13 people in a 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, has been executed, Japanese media report.

On 20 March 1995, cult members released the Sarin on the subway in the Japanese capital.

The government's human rights envoy, Baerbel Kofler, called the poison gas attack on rush-hour commuters in Tokyo's subway that killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000 a "terrible deed".

A facility of Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult led by its guru Shoko Asahara in Kamikuishiki in Kamikucishiki, Japan. "I think they would find it regrettable that they could not have heard the news of this execution".

In June 1994, the cult spread sarin gas in Matsumoto in central Japan, killing eight people and injuring more than 140 others, in an attack targeting residents who were protesting the cult's presence in their neighborhood and court officials handling their legal disputes.

Executions are rare in Japan but surveys show most people support the death sentence.

After he and 24 other AUM members unsuccessfully ran in the House of Representatives election in 1990 in an attempt to take over the state, he started planning mass murders of members of the public in revenge, according to the prosecutors. The sarin gas attack the cult carried out in Tokyo shattered Japan's sense of public safety.

Asahara and dozens of his followers were arrested in the months that followed, after police raids across the country.

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Japanese authorities said they were on alert for potential retaliation after the executions and local media reported police were visiting groups linked to the Aum and successor cults.

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

His execution came as a slew of trials involving AUM members came to an end after more than 20 years with the Supreme Court's decision on January 18 to reject an appeal against a life sentence filed by Katsuya Takahashi, the last former member on trial.

The injured of the deadly gas attack are treated by rescue workers near Tsukiji subway station in Tokyo, Japan.

Rights group Amnesty International said justice demanded accountability but also respect for civil rights.

During his eight-year trial, Asahara talked incoherently, occasionally babbling in broken English, and never acknowledged his responsibility or offered meaningful explanations.

Many of Asahara's followers were highly educated scientists and engineers, who helped bring in huge amounts of money to the cult's coffers.

Over the years, the group managed to lure in followers from some of Japan's top universities and boasted some 10,000 followers in Japan and another 30,000 in Russian Federation.

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