The execution of Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara and six other members of the doomsday cult convicted of numerous deadly crimes, including the 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway trains, may provide a sense of closure for the victims, their families and others who were affected by the Aum members' unprecedented crimes. But following marathon trials of roughly 190 cultists, which finally wrapped up in January, many of us remain mystified as to how and why the crimes took place, leaving a total of 29 people dead and more than 6,000 injured.

Asahara, whose death sentence as the mastermind of his cultists' heinous acts was finalized in 2006, nine years after his arrest in 1995, never spoke clearly during the trial about his motives behind the cult's crimes. He mostly just made incoherent remarks in the courtroom — at one point being evicted by the presiding judge for his irregular behavior — until he began to clam up, even to his lawyers and family members. On the other hand, many of his followers, including those put on death row along with the guru, apologized for their acts and blamed Asahara for ordering them. With the execution of Asahara, whose real name was Chizuo Matsumoto, the chance to hear his own account of the cult's acts is now lost.

The horrific nature of the crimes perpetrated by the convicted Aum Shinrikyo members shocked the nation and changed people's sense of public safety. In 1989, Aum cultists killed Tsutsumi Sakamoto, a lawyer supporting parents trying to take their children back from the cult, his wife and baby son. In 1994, they sprayed the deadly nerve gas sarin on a street in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, targeting a judge handling a lawsuit related to the cult and killing eight residents of the neighborhood in the process. The March 1995 gassing, in which sarin was released on five Tokyo subway trains, killing 13 people and leaving over 6,000 injured, was allegedly intended to confuse police investigations into the cult.