High court pushes back deadline for documents in Asahara appeal

Japan Today/January 7, 2005

The Tokyo High Court told the defense counsel of AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara on Friday that it will extend the deadline from Tuesday to late August for submission of documents needed to begin Asahara's appeal trial, the lawyers said.

Asahara, 49, was handed down a death sentence in February last year over 13 cases.

The cases for which Asahara was sentenced to death by the Tokyo District Court included the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

His lawyers had asked the high court to extend the deadline until February 2007, saying they could not prepare for the documents because they could not communicate well with Asahara.

The high court rejected the request, however, saying such an extension would be too long, prompting the lawyers to file a request for a shorter extension.

The lawyers became the defense counsel for Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, after an earlier team resigned following the district court sentence.

The lawyers earlier said they were unable to meet their client at the Tokyo Detention House at first, and even after he began appearing before them in July, Asahara did not respond to anything they said to him.

Last month, the high court had told the defense counsel that it will not suspend the defendant's trial despite the counsel's claim that he is suffering from a mental disorder.

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