Japanese doomsday cult leader's daughters sue over jail care

Associated Press/December 29, 2007

Tokyo -- Two daughters of the Japanese doomsday cult founder convicted of plotting a deadly gas attack on Tokyo's subway system have filed a lawsuit saying their father is not receiving proper mental health care in jail, a news report said.

Shoko Asahara's daughters are seeking five million yen (US$44,224) in damages from the government and the physician supervising the 52-year old former Aum Shinrikyo guru, Kyodo News agency said late Friday.

In the suit filed Friday with the Tokyo District Court, the daughters, whose names were not given, are also asking that Asahara be transferred from the Tokyo Detention Center to a medical facility where he can receive specialized treatment, Kyodo said.

The daughters claim their father's condition appears to be worsening, saying that he repeatedly laughs and talks to himself when they have met him face to face, Kyodo said.

Phones at the Tokyo District Court rang unanswered Saturday.

In 2004, Asahara, born Chizuo Matsumoto, was convicted and sentenced to hang for a 1995 attack on Tokyo's subway system in which his followers released deadly sarin gas during the morning rush hour. The attack killed 12 people and injured thousands.

Asahara was also convicted of plotting more than a dozen other crimes, including a 1994 gas attack in central Japan that killed seven and the kidnapping and murder of an anti-cult lawyer and his family.

Defense lawyers frequently raised the issue of Asahara's mental health during his eight-year trial. The former leader, who once commanded a cult of 40,000 members, often mumbled incoherently during the trial, interrupting sessions with bizarre outbursts in gibberish or in broken English.

His lawyers have said they have never been able to carry out a coherent discussion with their client, and he suffers from pathological mental stress caused by confinement.

In September 2006, Japan's top court rejected appeals arguing Asahara was not competent to face justice, effectively finalizing a lower court's death sentence ruling against him.

Asahara's lawyers could still apply for a retrial or an emergency appeal to stop his execution, but they have done neither to date.

Japanese authorities do not announce death sentence schedules in advance and until earlier this month wouldn't even announce the names of the people they had executed.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.