Court records of Aum Shinrikyo members will be stored forever

The Asahi Shimbun, Japan/August 3, 2018

By Naoki Urano

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa at a news conference on July 26 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa on Aug. 3 revealed that all remaining court records related to trials of Aum Shinrikyo members would be stored in perpetuity, given the unprecedented nature of the doomsday cult’s crimes.

The common practice is to discard court documents after a certain number of years have passed.

But records can be stored forever if they are designated as important for future research.

However, it is extremely rare to divulge which documents are to be stored in perpetuity.

In July, Kamikawa signed the orders that led to the hangings of the 13 Aum convicts on death row, including Chizuo Matsumoto, who founded the cult as Shoko Asahara.

“It is also an important responsibility of mine to pass on to future generations (those documents) in light of the unprecedented and significant nature of the crimes,” Kamikawa said in explaining why the special designation was made.

The administrative records related to those 13 death-row convicts will also be kept in storage forever.

The cultists were sentenced to death for a series of crimes in the 1980s and 1990s, including the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack in Tokyo that killed 13 people and sickened thousands.

Justice Ministry officials said the special designation would cover the court records of the 192 Aum members who were indicted. Some of those records have already been discarded because the valid period for storage as defined by law had passed.

Depending on the verdict, court records are kept in storage for between three and 50 years after the ruling has been finalized. The court verdicts themselves are stored for up to a century.

All of the documents are stored at the Public Prosecutors Office.

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