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The Aum Shinrikyo Executions: Why Now?

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With the execution of Aum Shinrikyo leader and six of his followers, Japan looks to leave behind an era of tragedy. 
On July 6, 2018, Japanese authorities executed seven members of the religious movement Aum Shinrikyo (Aum true religion, or supreme truth), which carried out the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack and a series of other atrocities. None of the seven of the executed men were directly involved in releasing the gas on that tragic day; four of those who did remain under a death sentence, and their executions may be imminent.
The seven executed were involved in planning and organizing the various crimes committed by Aum. Asahara Shoko (born Matsumoto Chizuo), was the founder and leader of the movement, having developed the doctrinal system instrumental to Aum’s violence and its concept of a final cosmic war of good (Aum) against evil (the corrupt material world and everyone — from the Japanese government to the general public — who lived in it). Asahara is believed to have given …

Lawmakers told to not look for new Arkansas execution method

The Arkansas attorney general's office warned legislators Monday not to explore alternative execution methods after the state's lethal injection protocol and execution secrecy law were found constitutional by Arkansas' high court.

The House Judiciary Committee heard a proposal for an interim study on hypoxia - replacing the oxygen in a person's lungs with an inert gas like nitrogen - as a backup method for executions. But the committee decided not to vote after the attorney general's legislative director, Cory Cox, advised members to "let sleeping dogs lie."

Cox said the office doesn't think it's necessary to pursue alternatives after the Arkansas Supreme Court's ruling.

"We were curious, if we have a constitutional method of lethal injection, why we would re-litigate that," he told the committee, saying an alternative method could create new reasons for litigation. "We would caution as the attorneys for the state that anything that might look as throwing doubt on what has been declared as constitutional by the state Supreme Court could be problematic."

Supporters of the study said lethal drug supplies are drying up and new approaches to executing death row inmates should be studied in case the state runs out of options to obtain the drugs.

Rep. Mary Broadaway, who requested the study, said she doesn't generally support the death penalty but thinks it's appropriate for Arkansas to "start looking at other options" if lethal drugs become unavailable.

"This is not a referendum on the death penalty," said the Democrat from Paragould in northeast Arkansas. "What this is about is Arkansas at this time has chosen to have a death penalty and there has been a trend around the United States with having problems implementing the death penalty."

The state's current execution law allows either a 1-drug barbiturate method for lethal injection or a 3-drug method of midazolam to sedate the inmate, vecuronium bromide to paralyze the lungs and stop the inmate's breathing, and potassium chloride to stop the heart. The law states that if lethal injection is ruled invalid, the state shall use electrocution to carry out death sentences.

Attorneys for the inmates who brought the challenge of the law have until Oct. 19 to file a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state Supreme Court's split decision from June.

Source: Associated Press, October 11, 2016

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