Daily News

9. 23rd anniversary of sarin attacks on Tokyo subway

Tuesday marks the 23rd anniversary of the deadly sarin attacks on the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

On March 20, 1995, the doomsday cult released the toxic nerve gas inside packed rush hour subway cars in central Tokyo. Thirteen people died and more than 6,000 others were injured.

A memorial ceremony was held on Tuesday morning at Kasumigaseki Station, one of the targets of the attacks. Station officials observed a moment of silence at 8 AM -- almost the exact time of the attacks 23 years ago. The victims' families and other mourners offered flowers and paid their respects.

All the criminal trials of cult members charged with the attacks and other crimes were concluded in January. Thirteen Aum Shinrikyo members, including leader Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, have been sentenced to death.

Attention is now focused on when the sentence will be carried out. Seven of the death-row inmates were transferred out of the Tokyo detention center earlier this month, prompting speculation that the move may be in preparation for their executions.

Shizue Takahashi, whose husband worked at the subway station and was killed in the attack, said she hopes things will now proceed calmly according to law. But she stressed that the pain suffered by the victims and their families has not healed.