Lawyers for Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara missed the Wednesday deadline to submit a document stating the reason they are appealing his death sentence.
Asahara’s counsel was to have submitted the document to the Tokyo High Court. However, the lawyers have said they cannot submit it because they have been unable to communicate with the 50-year-old doomsday cult guru.
Failure to submit such a document would normally mean the death sentence handed down by the Tokyo District Court on Feb. 27, 2004, was final. But the high court is not expected to reject the appeal until it sees results of a psychiatric exam and hears expert opinion on whether Asahara is competent to stand trial.
The psychiatric exam is expected to take several months.
If the high court concludes from the exam that Asahara is competent and if the counsel does not submit the document by the time the result of the exam is known, then the high court will probably dismiss the appeal.
The defense team made a second request July 29 to suspend any trial until Asahara’s mental state improved and asked the high court to extend the deadline to submit the appeal document.
But the high court on Aug. 19 rejected the request to suspend the trial, saying it believed Asahara was competent to stand trial. Nevertheless, the high court ordered a psychiatric exam.
Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death for masterminding 13 criminal cases, including the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 that killed 12 people and injured thousands.
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