Court rejects request for Asahara's transfer despite prison effect

Kyodo News Service/November 30, 2005

The Tokyo District Court ruled Wednesday that AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara may suffer from a mental disorder caused by his long detention but turned down his family's habeas corpus request to have him transferred to a medical facility.

After examining Asahara's medical records and medical services at the prison, Presiding Judge Seiichiro Nishioka said, "Some of the behavior of the defendant is abnormal and implies the possibility of a reaction to prison."

But rejecting the request, Nishioka said, "It cannot be said the treatment or diagnosis provided by the doctors in charge are significantly inappropriate or unreasonable."

The family of Asahara, 50, had been requesting the court to transfer him to another facility, saying, "The Tokyo prison is failing to provide proper checkups and treatment for physical and mental disorders, and is violating his right to stand trial with normal decision-making ability."

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was arrested in 1995 and sentenced to death in 2004 for his role in 13 criminal cases, including the fatal sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system. He has appealed the sentence.

The Tokyo High Court is currently conducting a psychiatric examination to decide whether he has the ability to stand trial or not.

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