Jul 27, 2018

Hanged ex-AUM guru said 'wait a minute' when asked about handling of his body

July 27, 2018

The words and actions of Shoko Asahara, former leader of the AUM Shinrikyo cult, shortly before his execution at the Tokyo Detention Center in early July have emerged from testimonies by people familiar with his last moments.

Asahara, who was convicted of mass murder along with his former followers, was handed the death penalty for involvement in a series of terror attacks and murders, including the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway system, which left 13 people dead and injured some 6,000.

According to those people, Asahara, whose real name was Chizuo Matsumoto, woke up on the morning of July 6 in his solitary cell and ate breakfast. He was then prompted by a detention officer to come out of the cell, and was taken to the counseling room where death row inmates are asked if they want to leave last words or talk with a counselor.

When the detention officer told him he was going to be executed that day, and asked about counseling, Asahara said nothing. Judging that he needed no counseling, the officer then asked the ex-cult guru about how to handle his body. As the convict remained silent, the detention officer prodded him again. Asahara then said, "Wait a minute," and made gestures as if he was giving a thought on the issue for a while. As the officer mentioned his wife and daughters and sought his response, Asahara replied in a small voice, "The fourth daughter," indicating his wishes that she be the recipient. As the officer asked again to make sure that he got the answer right, the former cultist referred to the daughter by her name. The officer made another attempt to confirm Asahara's intention, and he nodded in the affirmative.
The body of the former death row inmate was cremated at a facility in Tokyo on July 9. His fourth daughter indicated her intention to receive her fathers' ashes, and her lawyer announced that she wanted the remains to be dispersed over the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, Asahara's wife and third daughter have demanded that the remains be handed over to the wife, saying that it was unthinkable for him to designate a particular individual as the recipient of his body, considering his mental state before his execution.


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