Japanese cult guru's daughters lose damage suit

AFP News, Australia/July 27, 2007

A Japanese court has refused to grant damages to the daughters of a doomsday cult leader on death row for ordering a deadly nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.

Two of Shoko Asahara's daughters had demanded the state and a psychiatrist who checked him pay a total of 50 million yen ($A490,730), accusing them of deliberately rushing court proceedings.

Asahara's death sentence was finalised in September last year after courts refused to accept an appeal that was submitted late.

His lawyers had said they could not communicate with the nearly blind Asahara because he only mumbled nonsense.

But a court-appointed psychiatrist said Asahara was faking mental illness.

Tokyo District Court judge Nobuhiro Katada rejected the daughters' arguments.

"It cannot be recognised that judges proceeded with an unlawful or unfair intention," he said.

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was arrested at a commune near Mount Fuji two months after the sect shocked the world on March 20, 1995, by releasing Nazi-invented sarin gas in rush-hour Tokyo subway trains.

The attack killed 12 people and injured thousands. Asahara was sentenced to death in 2004 for the gas attack and other crimes.

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