WorldWide Religious News

Aum/Aleph

Asahara's lawyers refute court's criticism over no appeal document
("Kyodo," September 15, 2005)

Tokyo, Japan - AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara's defense lawyers said Thursday he cannot communicate and they will not submit a document stating the reason for appealing his death sentence to the Tokyo High Court as the submission will advance the proceedings.

In their statement, they said the submission "will go against our fundamental duty as defense lawyers," refuting the high court's criticism of their refusal to submit the document.

Urging the lawyers to immediately submit the document, whose deadline was Aug. 31, the high court said Sept. 2, "The move neglects (relevant) laws, and they infringed on the defendant's interests as they have abandoned their responsibilities as defense lawyers."

Responding to the criticism, the statement noted, "(The submission) will constitute defection to the defendant...The criticism of the high court is unreasonable."

The high court has initiated a process to begin conducting psychiatric examinations on Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, to determine whether he is competent to stand trial to appeal his death sentence.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Asahara, 50, to death in February last year for his role in 13 criminal cases including the fatal sarin nerve gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system in 1995.