Monday, February 20, 2006

Japanese terrorist competent to stand trial

Condemned Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara is mentally competent to stand trial in his appeal, according to an expert's report submitted Monday to the Tokyo High Court, contradicting his lawyers' claim that the incoherent guru's mental state is abnormal.

News photo
Shoko Asahara

Although developing prison-related "reactions," the 50-year-old Asahara "does not suffer mental problems and he is able to communicate," the report by a court-appointed psychiatrist concludes. "He has not lost his capacity to speak."

Attorneys for Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, have demanded the court suspend court proceedings, saying he is mentally incompetent. The high court is expected to reach a decision on Asahara's competency soon.

He was sentenced to death at the Tokyo District Court for his role in 13 criminal cases, including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. The attack killed 12 people, sent thousands to the hospital and paralyzed the center of the city.

Other cases include a 1994 gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, that killed seven people, the murder of an anticult lawyer and his family, and other slayings.

No comments: