Defense Files 2nd Request to Suspend Trial of AUM Founder Asahara

TOKYO, July 29–(Kyodo) _ The defense counsel for AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara filed a second request Friday for the Tokyo High Court to suspend his trial until his mental condition improves, the counsel said.

The counsel also requested the court to extend the deadline for the submission of a document stating the reason for appeal beyond Aug. 31. The death sentence handed down on Asahara, 50, by the Tokyo District Court on Feb. 27 last year will become final if the deadline is missed.

The high court had previously extended the deadline from the initial Jan. 11 to Aug. 31.

The counsel first requested the suspension in October last year but the court rejected the request in January this year.

The counsel said this time that the defendant is not in a mental state capable of continuing facing the trial.

The trial should proceed after his mental condition improves as a psychiatric evaluation has showed the condition is recoverable, according to the counsel.

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death by the district court for his role in 13 criminal cases, including the fatal sarin attack on Tokyo subway trains in 1995. His defense team has appealed the ruling.

AUM has renamed itself Aleph.

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