World News

Japanese minister calls cult's crimes heinous

Japanese minister calls cult's crimes heinous

A Japanese doomsday cult leader who masterminded the worst terror attack in the country's history has been executed by hanging. Police also found laboratories to produce LSD, methamphetamine, a form of truth serum, and various other drugs after raiding the cult's compound.

The relatives of those killed in the attack, and others who were injured welcomed the executions.

"I cheered when I heard he'd been killed, but worry that his former followers might deify him and do something".

"As I also bear a heavy responsibility, I would like to apologize to the victims", he said, although adding, "I have left Aleph more than 10 years ago, and I don't have any special feelings (for Asahara)".

He was among 13 people placed on death row in connection with the series of crimes perpetrated by the doomsday cult.

It amassed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons to carry out Asahara's escalating criminal orders in anticipation of an apocalyptic showdown with the government.

A woman in her 40s interviewed in front of a detention house in Osaka, where two former AUM executives were executed said, "There are fears about what the followers are going to do".

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"Today's executions are unprecedented in recent memory for Japan".

"Seven Aum members were executed, they include Shoko Asahara", a justice ministry official told AFP. Six other followers remain on death row. The attack left more than a dozen people dead and thousands injured.

This photo from 1995 shows subway passengers affected by sarin nerve gas being carried into a hospital. An eighth person died after being in a coma for a decade.

The five cultists who carried bags of sarin onto the trains targeted three subway lines converging at Kasumigaseki, Japan's government and political center similar equivalent to Washington's Capitol Hill.

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. This is based on Shoko Asahara fusing and altering aspects of Buddhism, Christianity and the Book of Revelations - and other ideas - to kindle a cult that supported the death of innocents. It attracted young people disillusioned with the modern materialistic way of life.

Asahara pleaded not guilty and never testified, only muttering and making incoherent remarks in court during the eight years of his trial, according to Reuters. After all, the upper echelons of Aum Shinrikyo being held on death row had denied being directly involved in the terrorist attack. His family has said he was a broken man, constantly wetting and soiling the floor of his prison cell and not communicating with his family or lawyers. They had requested his mental treatment a retrial.

Asahara had been on death row for masterminding a deadly 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack and other crimes.


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