Iran: Annual report on the death penalty 2017

IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS (MARCH 13, 2018): The 10th annual report on the death penalty in Iran by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and ECPM shows that in 2017 at least 517 people were executed in the Islamic Republic of Iran. 
This number is comparable with the execution figures in 2016 and confirms the relative reduction in the use of the death penalty compared to the period between 2010 and 2015. 
Nevertheless, with an average of more than one execution every day and more than one execution per one million inhabitants in 2017, Iran remained the country with the highest number of executions per capita.
2017 Annual Report at a Glance:
At least 517 people were executed in 2017, an average of more than one execution per day111 executions (21%) were announced by official sources.Approximately 79% of all executions included in the 2017 report, i.e. 406 executions, were not announced by the authorities.At least 240 people (46% of all executions) were executed for murder charges - 98 more than in 2016.At le…

Former Aum cultist publishes memoir on gas attacks, cult leader

The sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995 killed 13 and left more than 6,000 people injured.
The sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995
killed 13 and left more than 6,000 people injured.
A former executive of the Aum Shinrikyo cult who helped manufacture the sarin gas that killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000 on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 has published a memoir.

In it, Tomomasa Nakagawa, 54, a former medical doctor and now death-row inmate, reveals the method used by the cult to manufacture the deadly nerve gas and also discusses former Aum leader Shoko Asahara, whom he cared for.

“He was a criminal before (being regarded as) a religious leader in that he transformed a religious organization into a criminal enterprise,” Nakagawa noted about Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.

Matsumoto, 61, is also on death row.

Nakagawa published the memoir in the November issue of Gendai Kagaku (Chemistry Today), urged by Anthony Tu, professor emeritus at Colorado State University and an authority of toxicology.

Tu, who wrote a book on the subway attacks and also a 1994 sarin attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, that killed eight people and sickened about 600, has interviewed Nakagawa many times.

The cultist, whose death sentence was finalized in 2011, was involved in both sarin atrocities and also the abduction and murders of anti-Aum lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto and his family members in 1989.

At the beginning of the memoir, whose main theme was “Why was (Aum) able to manufacture sarin?” Nakagawa apologizes to victims of the series of crimes committed by Aum cultists.

As for Asahara's skill as a leader of yoga and meditation sessions, Nakagawa writes, “His capability was extremely high."

“There were no people who joined Aum to commit murders. Including me, those who put absolute trust in Asahara in the fields of yoga and meditation became involved in the (fatal) incidents,” Nakagawa recalls.

He also reveals the chemical formulas he says were used to manufacture the sarin, which the cult began producing in around 1992.

In January 1995, the media reported that police suspected Aum was behind the sarin attack in Matsumoto. The gas was sprayed in a residential area in June the previous year.

Aum members hurriedly disposed of several hundreds of tons of sarin and other chemical substances to prevent police from finding the stockpile, Nakagawa writes in the memoir.

“All of us were poisoned by sarin (while doing that). I was just about able to stand,” he recalls.

The sarin attacks on the Tokyo subway system were carried out on March 20, 1995.

Nakagawa was one of the cultists who manufactured it, utilizing chemicals that were not disposed of in the January clearing out.

Nakagawa said in court that Yoshihiro Inoue, 47, also a former Aum executive and a death-row inmate, was responsible for storing the chemicals.

However, in a court ruling on a different former executive of Aum, it was stated keeping the chemicals was Nakagawa's job.

“Whatever the reason, terrorism is always intolerable,” the memoir reads.

It concludes with, “The background (of the act) of joining dangerous religious or terrorist organizations and the background (of the act) of carrying out terror acts after joining those organizations should be distinguished.”

Minoru Kariya, 56, the eldest son of Kiyoshi, a notary public who was also abducted and killed by Aum in 1995 at the age of 68, said that many bereaved families still have questions after listening to the remarks made by various Aum members in court.

“If former executives of Aum release their memoirs, it could help clarify the facts (of the series of crimes committed by the organization),” said Kariya, who has repeatedly interviewed Inoue and Nakagawa.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, January 10, 2017

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