AUM’s Asahara Refuses to See Lawyer

TOKYO, May 19 (Kyodo) — AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara has refused to see his lawyer who will defend him in his appeal against his death sentence handed down by the Tokyo District Court in February, the lawyer told Kyodo News on Wednesday.

Takeshi Matsui, who belongs to the Tokyo No. 2 Bar Association, said he cannot form a defense strategy in the appeal at the Tokyo High Court because of Asahara’s refusal to cooperate.

The appeal trial was expected to begin as early as next year but it may be delayed, he said.

Matsui said he went to the Tokyo Detention House more than a dozen times but never saw Asahara.

Matsui said he is asking several other lawyers to defend Asahara along with him.

Matsui, who represents two daughters of Asahara, was hired after all 12 state-appointed lawyers who defended him during the district court trial decided not to defend Asahara in the appeal trial.

asahara also refused many times to see the state-appointed lawyers and showed no willingness to appeal.

Asahara, 49, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was found guilty on all 13 charges against him, including murder and attempted murder in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Altogether, the charges related to the deaths of 27 people.

AUM now calls itself Aleph.

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