International

Japan executes Sarin attack cultists

London, Jul 6 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 7/6/2018 11:48:41 PM IST
Seven members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult which carried out a deadly chemical attack on the Tokyo underground in 1995 have been executed, including cult leader Shoko Asahara.
The Sarin attack, Japan’s worst terror incident, killed 13 people and injured thousands more.
The executions took place at a Tokyo detention house on Friday morning.
Japan does not give prior notice of executions, but they were later confirmed by the justice ministry.
Shoko Asahara, 63, and his followers were also accused of several other murders and an earlier Sarin gas attack in 1994 which killed eight and left 600 injured.
Their execution, by hanging, had been postponed until all those convicted had completed their final appeals. That happened in January.
Another six members of the cult are still on death row.
Injured victims and the families of those killed have welcomed the executions.
“I reacted calmly... But I did feel the world had become slightly brighter,” said Atsushi Sakahara, a film director who was caught in the attack.
“It will be impossible to ever forget the incident, but the execution brings a kind of closure.”

On 20 March 1995, cult members released the Sarin on the subway in the Japanese capital. They left punctured bags filled with liquid nerve agent on train lines going through Tokyo’s political district.
Witnesses described noticing the leaking packages and soon afterwards feeling stinging fumes hitting their eyes.
The toxin struck victims down in a matter of seconds, leaving them choking and vomiting, some blinded and paralysed. Thirteen people died.
Aum Shinrikyo, often shortened to Aum, believed that the end of the world was coming and that those outside the cult would go to hell - unless they were killed by cult members.
Cult leader Asahara styled the attack as a “holy attempt to elevate the doomed souls of this world to a higher spiritual stage”, the Japan Times reports.
In the months after, members of the cult made several failed attempts to release hydrogen cyanide in various stations.
The attack shocked Japan, a country that prided itself on low crime rates and social cohesion.
Scores of Aum members have faced trial over the incident and 13 were sentenced to death, including Asahara.
Another six are serving life sentences.

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