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Japanese doomsday cult leader executed for 1995 Tokyo sarin gas attack

By Ray Downs
Japanese doomsday cult leader executed for 1995 Tokyo sarin gas attack
Cult leader Shoko Asahara was executed Friday for masterminding a 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. File Photo by EPA/Jiji Press

July 5 (UPI) -- The Japanese government executed a man Friday who masterminded the 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo's subway system, which killed 12 people and injured hundreds. He was killed by hanging.

Chizuo Matsumoto, better known as Shoko Asahara, the founder of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, was found guilty of the attack in 2004 and exhausted all of his appeals in 2006. He was also found guilty of 13 other crimes in the years before the 1995 attack and accused in the deaths of 27 people.

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Asahara's case dragged on for several years as Japanese authorities searched for other people involved in the attack, eventually catching and executing five other top suspects.

In all, 200 people were indicted for the crime and 13 people were sentenced to death, NHK reported. The final conviction occurred Jan. 25.

Asahara denied he instructed his followers to carry out the attack, but agreed with prosecutors he was culpable as the leader of the group.

Asahara never explained the motivations behind the crimes, the Japan Times reported. He rarely spoke at court proceedings and turned down meetings with lawyers and family for the past 10 years.

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His founded the Aum Shinrikyo cult in 1984 and propagated a mix of Buddhism and Hinduism with the Christian Bible's Book of Revelations for an ideology that was obsessed with the end of the world.

At the time of the 1995 attack, the cult believed the world would end in 1997.

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