TOKYO, Dec. 15–(Kyodo) _ The outcome of psychiatric examinations of AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara, who has been sentenced to death for a series of crimes including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, is expected to be known next February or later, Tokyo High Court sources said Thursday.
The prospect has emerged after a psychiatrist conducting a mental checkup on Asahara told the court it is difficult to compile a report on the results by the end of January due to scheduling problems, the sources said.
The prospect has been conveyed to both prosecutors and Asahara’s defense council, they said.
The three-judge high court panel will look into the outcome of the examinations and decide if Asahara is competent to stand trial, they said.
Judicial experts said if the high court decides Asahara is competent the court may turn down the appeal without holding any hearings because no document stating reasons for the appeal has been filed by the Aug. 31 deadline.
The Code of Criminal Procedure requires a high court to reject an appeal if such a statement has not been submitted by the deadline.
No hearing has been held at the appeals court since Asahara, 50, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death at the Tokyo District Court in February 2004.
The high court interviewed the psychiatrist in early September without the presence of the defense team despite its request for attendance.
The defense did not submit the document on reasons for the appeal by the deadline partly in protest against the court’s decision not to allow the defense team to attend. Defense lawyers also said they could not compile the reasoning document because they cannot communicate with Asahara.
AUM Shinrikyo has renamed itself Aleph.