Tokyo, April 19_(Kyodo) _ A former AUM Shinrikyo follower has joined a team of lawyers for AUM founder Shoko Asahara, who has been convicted of masterminding the 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
The sources said the man, 32, who belongs to the Saitama bar association, joined the team in February and has interviewed Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.
He is one of three lawyers who joined the team of two in February. He has already left the cult, which has renamed itself Aleph.
The Tokyo High Court on March 27 rejected an appeal filed by the defense counsel of Asahara, who faces 13 charges including murder. On March 30, the defense team filed an objection against the high court’s decision to dismiss their appeal against his death sentence two years ago.
Asahara, 51, was sentenced to death by the Tokyo District Court in February 2004 for his role in 13 criminal cases, including the 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,500 others.