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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 …

Ohio could have path to obtaining long-sought execution drug

Ohio may have a path to obtaining a long-sought lethal injection drug if the state can locate the proper ingredients, the prison system's top lawyer said during a deposition in a legal challenge to Ohio's proposed execution drugs.

The state has been unable to carry out executions on more than 2 dozen condemned killers because of court challenges to its proposed 3-drug method, which includes midazolam, a sedative used in problematic executions in other states.

Gov. John Kasich delayed executions once again in May, including that of Ronald Phillips, now scheduled to die in July for raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993.

Stephen Gray's deposition, taken last year and unsealed May 24, suggests Ohio may have a possible source of a barbiturate called pentobarbital through a compounding pharmacist. Gray said in the deposition that the pharmacist might be able to supply pentobarbital to the state.

Pentobarbital was Ohio's preferred lethal drug until U.S. supplies dried up, and obtaining supplies of pentobarbital could go a long way to breaking the legal deadlock over state executions. A single, lethal dose of pentobarbital was without problems in 10 Ohio executions from 2011 to 2013.

Compounding pharmacists typically mix small, specialty batches of drugs that aren't subject to the same type of federal regulations as pharmaceuticals mass-produced by drug makers.

If Ohio could legally import overseas ingredients for pentobarbital, "then maybe there may be a relationship with that compounding pharmacist to supply that to my Department," Gray said in the Dec. 16 deposition.

In the same deposition, Gray confirmed that a compounding pharmacist on a prison system list wouldn't be able to mix pentobarbital without being supplied the active ingredients. The list Gray refers to, "Exhibit 22," is sealed.

The prison system declined comment. Timothy Sweeney, the attorney who questioned Gray in the deposition, also declined comment.

In a May 25 filing with a federal appeals court in Cincinnati, Sweeney and other attorneys argue that, based on the evidence, death row inmates "are likely to succeed in showing that pentobarbital is available to Ohio."

The appeals court on June 14 will hear death row inmates' challenge of the state's proposed 3-drug method that includes midazolam, which was used in problematic executions in recent years in Arizona, Arkansas and Ohio. Opponents say midazolam creates a substantial risk of harm by not rendering inmates deeply unconscious.

A 3-judge panel previously declared the method unconstitutional, but in a rare move, the full court agreed to re-hear the case at the state's request.

Source: The Republic, June 6, 2017

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