Aum Shinrikyo founder, three other members hanged 23 years after deadly subway attack, more executions likely to follow.

On the morning of March 20, 1995, as commuters were making their way into downtown Tokyo, members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult released sarin nerve gas on trains in the Tokyo subway system, killing 13 and injuring thousands. Less publicized internationally was a sarin attack in the city of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1994, when Aum Shinrikyo members killed eight and injured hundreds while targeting judges who were opposed to the cult building a facility within the city limits, and the 1989 murder of a Yokohama-based lawyer involved in a class action lawsuit against the cult, who was killed in his home along with his wife and 14-month old baby son, all of whom were injected with poison following a violent struggle with cultists.

Subsequent police investigations led to the arrest of Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara (born Chizuo Matsumoto) in 1995, and the additional indictment of 192 other members of the organization. Asahara was convicted of masterminding the incidents, and Japan’s supreme court upheld his death penalty in 2006. However, Japanese law prevented the sentence from being carried out until all other members of the organization who were being tried in connection to the events completed their appeals, which didn’t happen until earlier this year.

On the morning of July 6, more than two decades after the Tokyo subway attack and almost 30 years since the murder of the Sakamoto family, the Japanese government has executed Asahara, delivering the punishment through the country’s customary method of hanging.

In addition to the 63-year-old Asahara, three other convicted Aum Shinrikyo members were executed on July 6: Yoshihiro Inoue (48), Tomomasa Nakagawa (55), and Kiyohide Hayakawa (68).

Aside from the four executed cultists, nine other Aum Shinrikyo members are currently on death row. While all were previously being held at the Tokyo Detention House (the facility where executions in Tokyo are carried out), seven of the 13 members facing death penalties were transferred to other facilities in March of this year, leading to speculation that the remaining executions will be carried out in close succession.

Sources: NHK News Web (1, 2) via Livedoor News via Jin, BBC News
Top image: Wikipedia/っ