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The German government has described the death penalty as "inhumane and cruel" after Japan hanged seven members of the doomsday cult that poisoned commuters in a deadly subway attack in 1995.

Scores of Aum members have faced trial over the attack - 13 were sentenced to death, including Asahara. He was among 13 people placed on death row in connection with the string of crimes perpetrated by the doomsday cult.

Human rights agencies opposed to the death sentence have condemned the executions.

Japan's justice minister says she approved the executions of a cult leader and six of his followers because of the seriousness of their crimes and the pain they inflicted.

The cult has since been renamed Aleph, with an estimated 2,000 members watched closely by authorities, according to the Associated Press.

FILE - In this September 25, 1995, file photo, Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara, center, sits in a police van following an interrogation in Tokyo.

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Tomomasa Nakagawa, a doctor also executed Friday, and several other cultists broke into the Sakamotos' apartment late at night, strangled them to death and buried them in the mountains. Asahara, also known as Chizuo Matsumoto, declared himself to be both Christ and the first "enlightened one" since Buddha.

"We should have heard more stories from the people involved and deepened discussions in society to get to the bottom as to why such crimes related to religion happened", Ogawara said.

On 20 March 1995, cult members released the Sarin on the Tokyo subway.

Asahara was also convicted of masterminding a June 1994 sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, which killed eight people and injured more than 100.

Sarin is a deadly nerve gas originally developed by the Nazis.

Aum Shinrikyo's killings began in November 1989, when lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto - who was working on a class action case against the cult - was brutally murdered along with his wife and child.

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AUM evolved from a yoga school established by Asahara in 1984 and had about 1,400 live-in followers and over 10,000 lay followers at one point.

Police leave an Aum Shinrikyo compound in the small village of Kamikuishiki at the foot of Mount Fuji on March 28, 1995.

Asahara pleaded not guilty and never testified, only muttering and making incoherent remarks in court during the eight years of his trial, according to Reuters.

And the execution of Asahara's followers risks elevating them to "martyrs" in the eyes of remaining cult adherents, warned Taro Takimoto, a lawyer for relatives of cultists, in an interview with AFP earlier this year.

In 2016, police in Russian Federation conducted a number of raids on suspected cult members in Moscow and St Petersburg.

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