Tokyo―The leader of the Japanese doomsday cult that carried out a deadly 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway was executed Friday along with six of his followers, decades after the horrific crime. Scores of Aum Shinrikyo members have faced trial over the attack - 13 were sentenced to death, including Asahara, according to BBC News. In a series of trials, Asahara and 12 of his followers were sentenced to death for this and other crimes.
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.
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 death penalty can never deliver this as it is the ultimate denial of human rights", Hiroka Shoji, the group's East Asia Researcher, said in a statement.
AUM Shinrikyo renamed itself Aleph in January 2000. The attack killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000 others.
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Japan has carried out its largest peacetime execution in more than a century with the hanging of a cult leader and six followers who were behind a chemical weapons attack on the Tokyo underground.
Along with Ashara, Japanese executioners killed two scientists who helped make the gas and one of the men who actually carried out the attack.
Though concerns about the Aum had already been raised, the attack prompted a massive crackdown on the cult's headquarters and the arrest of Asahara and other group members.
Aum Shinrikyo followers chant before a portrait of guru Shoko Asahara on July 19, 1999, at Aum's Adachi office in Tokyo.
Aum Shinrikyo's killings began in November 1989, when lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto - who was working on a class action case against the cult - was brutally murdered along with his wife and child.
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The reverberations in Japan of an internal religious cult that utilized terrorism and fear remains in the memory today, just like the brutal events of the Tokyo Sarin attack in 1995.
"I've been in pain for years", he told AFP. There are 117 convicts on death row.
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.
Some survivors of the cult's crimes opposed the executions, saying they would end hopes for a fuller explanation of the crimes.
Undeterred, members of the cult continued carrying out various attacks against the people of Japan, which all failed, by attempting to release hydrogen cyanide in various train stations.
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