Japan has executed the cult leader behind the deadly subway nerve gas attack in Tokyo 23 years ago.
Aum Shinrikyo’s (Aum Supreme Truth) 63-year-old founder Chizuo Matsumoto, also known as Shoko Anshara, was hanged on Thursday along with six other cult members after almost 12 years of being on death row, The Mainichi reports.
Members of the cult reportedly conducted a series of violent crimes in March 1995, which included simultaneous sarin gas attacks on Tokyo subway trains during rush hour. Considered Japan’s worst terror attack, the high-profile crime left 13 people dead and around 6,000 injured.
In September 2006, Japan’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced the former AUM leader to death for being the “mastermind” of the series of crimes.
Another lesser-known sarin attack by the cult members was also conducted in the city of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture in 1994 which resulted in the death of eight people and injury of hundreds of victims. The Aum Shinrikyo was reportedly targeting judges who opposed the building of a facility within the city limits, reports SoraNews24.
Meanwhile, a lawyer involved in a class action lawsuit against the cult was killed with injected poison along with his wife and 14-month old baby son in 1989.
While Matsumoto was arrested in 1995 and sentenced to die in 2006, the courts had to wait until all other members who were being tried in connection to the crimes completed their appeals as prescribed in Japanese law. The appeals were only completed earlier this year.
The six other members also executed on Thursday were Kiyohide Hayakawa, 68, at the Fukuoka Detention Center; Yoshihiro Inoue, 48, and Tomomitsu Niimi, 54, at the Osaka Detention Center; Masami Tsuchiya, 53, at the Tokyo Detention Center; Tomomasa Nakagawa, 55, at the Hiroshima Detention Center; and Seiichi Endo, 58, also at the Tokyo Detention Center. Their death sentences were finalized between 2009 and 2011.
Aside from the seven who have already executed, six other cultists are still on death row and awaiting execution.
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