The Tokyo High Court has rejected an objection filed by lawyers fighting to appeal Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara’s death sentence, sources said Tuesday.
The decision, handed down Monday, means Asahara’s death sentence will probably stand. The Supreme Court is unlikely to overrule the decision unless there has been a violation of the Constitution or a legal precedent can be found, the sources said.
His lawyers can file a special appeal with the Supreme Court within five days. If the decision is upheld, the death sentence will stand without an appeal court session.
Presiding Judge Yu Shiraki reportedly said Monday his three-member panel could not find any unavoidable circumstances to explain the defense team’s failure to submit a statement explaining the appeal by the August 2005 deadline.
Asahara’s lawyers were objecting to a March 27 decision made by another three-judge panel, headed by Judge Masaru Suda, in the same court.
Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death by the Tokyo District Court in February 2004 for his role in 13 criminal cases, including 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 and injured more than 5,500.
In the March 27 decision, Suda turned down his lawyers’ appeal of the death sentence, rejecting their argument that Asahara wasn’t competent to stand trial.
Suda also said the lawyers, dissatisfied with the results of the court-commissioned psychiatric evaluation of Asahara, did not file their reason for the appeal by the August deadline set by the court.
They filed those papers March 28 and filed an objection to the March 27 decision on March 30, arguing that the high court had agreed to an extension of the filing deadline.
In the objection, the defense team also stated that the high court was wrong in accepting the court-commissioned psychiatric evaluation, which concluded Asahara suffers no psychological disorder.
Judge Shiraki showed some sympathy for the defense team, however, telling them they had the option, already sought by the lawyers, of opening an appeals court hearing after Asahara gets medical treatment. The guru shows symptoms of a mental disorder caused by his more than decade-long stay in prison. He was arrested in May 1995.
“The dismissal of the appeal was unavoidable because of the nonsubmission of the reasoning statement by the deadline,” the judge said.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.