Aum Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara has continually refused to meet with the lawyer who will handle his appeal against the death sentence, the lawyer said Wednesday.

Takeshi Matsui, a member of the Tokyo No. 2 Bar Association, said he cannot establish a defense strategy for the appeal at the Tokyo High Court due to Asahara’s refusal to cooperate. The Tokyo District Court sentenced Asahara to hang in February.

The appeal trial could begin next year, although it might be delayed, he said.

Asahara, 49, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was found guilty of all 13 charges leveled against him, including murder and attempted murder in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. The charges related to the deaths of 27 people.

Matsui said he has visited the Tokyo Detention House more than a dozen times since being hired as Asahara’s lawyer on Feb. 27, but has not been able to see Asahara.

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