The founder of the Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, responsible for the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo, was executed by hanging together with some of his followers on Friday, the NHK TV channel reported.
Asahara, 63, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was the first to be hanged from the 13 cult members now on death row, for their roles in a number of fatal crimes carried out by the cult.
Asahara and 12 of his followers were sentenced to death and five others received life sentences.
Therefore, with all legal appeals of other death row inmates being exhausted, then now is a time to close the book on this bad event while never forgetting.
The move drew sharp criticism from some lawmakers as well as Amnesty International, which called capital punishment "the ultimate denial of human rights".
The following are brief descriptions of three major criminal cases involving the AUM Shinrikyo doomsday cult.
The cult has since been renamed Aleph, with an estimated 2,000 members watched closely by authorities, according to the Associated Press.
A woman in her 40s interviewed in front of a detention house in Osaka, where two former AUM executives were executed said, "There are fears about what the followers are going to do".
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The horrifying scenes in the aftermath of the attack shocked a country where the crime rate is relatively low and people tend to take their personal safety for granted. The attack killed 13 people and injured 5,500.
The Aum Shinri Kyo, or Aum Supreme Truth cult, which mixed Buddhist and Hindu meditation with apocalyptic teachings, staged a series of crimes including simultaneous sarin gas attacks on Tokyo subway trains during rush hour in March 1995.
But Kofler said "despite the seriousness of this crime the German government stands by its principled rejection of the death penalty as an inhumane and cruel form of punishment" that should be abolished worldwide. All told, 19 cult members, including Asahara, were apprehended and tried for their crimes. There are 117 convicts on death row. However, ultimately, the death penalty was given to Shoko Asahara and others high in the chain of this organization.
It is extremely complex to label the religious fundamentals of Aum Shinrikyo.
"As I also bear a heavy responsibility, I would like to apologize to the victims", he said, although adding, "I have left Aleph more than 10 years ago, and I don't have any special feelings (for Asahara)".
Asahara, 63, a partially blind former yoga instructor, believed that the United States would attack Japan with nuclear weapons, and that only cult members would survive World War III.
The legal proceedings had been dragged out, but recent Japanese media reports said the executions were expected.
At its peak, the group had 10,000 members in Japan and 30,000 followers in Russian Federation, the Associated Press reports.