Japan's High Court has dismissed a final appeal in the last criminal trial relating to a sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway in 1995, paving the way for 13 of those responsible to be put to death by hanging.
It has been 21 years since five men released the deadly nerve agent in carriages of crowded commuter trains during Tokyo's morning rush-hour.
Twelve people died, 50 people were left permanently injured, and thousands of others were temporarily blinded by the gas.
The perpetrators were all members of a religious cult known as Aum Shinrikyo, which means "supreme truth".
The cult had prepared for the attack at a remote sheep station it owned in Western Australia.
The sarin gas attack in Tokyo is regarded as the first ever use of a weapon of mass destruction in an act of terrorism.
The perpetrators of the crime thought they were carrying out a holy act in line with the beliefs of the doomsday cult.
The prosecutors of the criminal trials believe that day was chosen to divert the attention of police who were planning a raid on the cult's headquarters.
The head of the cult, Shoko Asahara, was found guilty of masterminding the attacks in 2004 and sentenced to death by hanging, but his execution was postponed while the appeals of his fellow criminals were heard.
He is now 61 years old and spends his days in solitary confinement.
Hiromi Shimada, the author of a book about Aum Shinrikyo, said the next question would be when the 13 men facing the death penalty would go to the gallows.
"Since there are so many of them, I think it'll be difficult to execute all of them at once," he said.
"The Minister of Justice has to make the decision but it can't be carried out just by the minister's decision.
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