The Latest: German government says death penalty cruel

TV screens at an electrical appliance store show the image of doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara in news reports, in Urayasu, near Tokyo, Friday, July 6, 2018. Asahara and six followers were executed Friday for their roles in a deadly 1995 gas attack on the Tokyo subways and other crimes, Japan’s Justice Ministry said. (Kyodo News via AP)
FILE - This combination of file photos shows Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Shoko Asahara, from top left to right, his cult members, Tomomasa Nakagawa, Seiichi Endo, and Masami Tsuchiya. Other members from bottom left to right, Yoshihiro Inoue, Tomomitsu Nimi, and Kiyohide Hayakawa. Japan executed the leader and six followers of a doomsday cult Friday, July 6, 2018, for a series of deadly crimes including a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway that killed 13 people in 1995. (Kyodo News via AP, File)
This September, 1998, photo shows a facility of Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult led by its guru Shoko Asahara in Kamikuishiki in Kamikucishiki, Japan. The cult group made sarin, a deadly nerve agent in the facility. People in Japan expressed relief Friday that the executions had finally taken place for the doomsday cult leader Asahara who was responsible for the shocking nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway two decades ago. (Kyodo News via AP)
A staff of Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun distributes their extra edition reporting doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara was executed, in Tokyo Friday, July 6, 2018. Asahara and six followers were executed Friday for their roles in a deadly 1995 gas attack on the Tokyo subways and other crimes, Japan's Justice Ministry said. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

TOKYO — The Latest on the executions of seven doomsday cult members in Japan (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

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.

The government's human rights envoy, Baerbel Kofler, called the poison gas attack on rush-hour commuters in Tokyo's subway that killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000 a "terrible deed."

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.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Friday that Germany wants "the unconditional abolition of the death penalty and we convey this position toward friendly states as well."

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2:10 p.m.

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 seven death row inmates were hanged Friday for their involvement in several deadly attacks carried out by the doomsday Aum Shinrikyo cult.

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said the death sentences were deserved because the systematically plotted crimes were so heinous and prompted fears of terrorism both in Japan and abroad. She signed the execution order on Tuesday.

The cult's most notorious crime was the release of sarin gas on Tokyo subways in 1995. The attack killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000 others.

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11:50 a.m.

Japan's Justice Ministry has confirmed reports that six followers of a doomsday cult have been executed along with its leader.

The ministry said that Shoko Asahara and six members of his Aum Shinrikyo cult were hanged Friday. They had been convicted of a series of crimes including a 1995 sarin gas attack that killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000 others on the Tokyo subway system.

Asahara and five of the six followers had been implicated in the subway attack.

The cult amassed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons to carry out Asahara's escalating criminal orders in anticipation of an apocalyptic showdown with the government.

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11:30 a.m.

Two relatives of victims of a Japanese doomsday cult say they approve of the execution of its leader.

Shoko Asahara was hanged Friday morning for masterminding a series of deadly crimes including a 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

Kiyoe Iwata told Japanese broadcaster NHK by phone Friday that his death gives her piece of mind. Her daughter was killed in the 1995 subway attack.

Iwata said she has always wondered why it had to be her daughter. She added she would visit her daughter's grave to let her know.

Minoru Kariya told NHK that he has been wondering when the execution would happen. He called it appropriate. His father is believed to have been tortured to death by the cult in 1995.

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10:25 a.m.

A Japanese government spokesman has confirmed the execution of doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday that authorities are taking precautionary measures in case of any retaliation by his followers.

He declined to comment on media reports that some of Asahara's followers were also hanged.

Asahara had been on death row for masterminding a 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subways and other crimes. The subway attack killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000.

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9:55 a.m.

Major Japanese media are reporting that some disciples of doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara have also been executed.

The reports say Asahara and some of his followers were hanged Friday. The exact number is unclear. They cite unidentified sources.

The Justice Ministry says it could not confirm the reports.

Asahara had been on death row for masterminding a deadly 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack and other crimes.

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9:20 a.m.

Japanese media reports say doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara, who has been on death row for masterminding the 1995 deadly Tokyo subway gassing and other crimes, has been executed.

He was 63.

The sarin gas attack killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000.

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