Shoko Asahara, the founder of Japanese doomsday cult group Aum Shinrikyo, was executed along with seven other members on Friday, July 6. The members of the Japanese cult group were responsible for carrying out the infamous sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.
The attack had left several dozen people dead and over thousands injured. Soon after the attack, the police nabbed the mastermind Asahara and kept him in prison for almost 22 years. Although the cult leader was sentenced to death in 2006, his trial was dragged on for almost 12 years, reports CNN.
Along with Asahara, six other members of the Aum Shinrikyo were awarded the death penalty for their involvement in the sarin gas attack and other crimes. Japanese Justice Minister Yoko Kawakami confirmed that the six members were Tomomasa Nakagawa, Tomomitsu Niimi, Kiyohide Hayakawa, Yoshihiro Inoue, Seiichi Endo and Masami Tsuchiya.
"The attacks carried out by Aum were despicable and those responsible deserve to be punished. However, the death penalty is never the answer," Hiroka Shoji, East Asia researcher at Amnesty International was quoted as saying by CNN.
"Justice demands accountability but also respect for everyone's human rights. The death penalty can never deliver this as it is the ultimate denial of human rights," the official added.
All you need to know about Shoko Asahara
- Chizuo Matsumoto, who came to be known as Shoko Asahara, was born on March 2, 1955, in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto, Japan
- He was the founder of Japanese doomsday cult group Aum Shinrikyo
- The Japanese government was initially reluctant to grant Aum Shinrikyo a legal recognition, however, it was later called as a religious organization after an appeal in 1989.
- Asahara amassed scores of followers by 1990 and had even run for the parliamentary elections. However, they failed miserably.
- His followers claimed that their leader could levitate for hours and even possessed extra-sensory powers.
- Asahara was the mastermind behind the sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway in 1995
- The attack shocked the entire world and also led to the arrest of Asahara along with several other members of the cult group.
- The Aum Shinrikyo had officially disowned Asahara in 2000, however, his influence is still strong amongst the members.
- Asahara was executed on July 6, 2018, by the Japanese authorities
- After his death, there are fears that a new 'Asahara' could emerge as his replacement in the near future.