TOKYO — The leader of a Japanese doomsday cult and six of his top disciples have been put to death for a spate of killings including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the the Tokyo subway that killed 13 people and sickened thousands.
Shoko Asahara, leader of the murderous Aum Shinrikyo cult, was the first to be hanged, followed by the other six, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. Asahara was 63 years old.
In all, 12 of Asahara’s followers had been sentenced to death for crimes that killed 27 people.
The most shocking attack came in 1995, when Asahara’s followers punctured plastic bags to release deadly sarin gas into packed train car. In all, 13 people were killed and 6,000 sickened.
Founded in 1984, the cult became popular among young people, including some graduates of top universities, who became Asahara’s top lieutenants.
The group amassed a large arsenal of chemical, biological ahead of what they believed would be an apocalyptic showdown with the government.
At its peak, the cult claimed 10,000 members in Japan and 30,000 in Russia. It has since disbanded, though nearly 2,000 followers have migrated over to three splinter groups, whihc are closely monitored by authorities.
Authorities said they are taking precautionary measures in case of any retaliation by his followers.