Psychiatrist Reports AUM Founder Asahara Unfit for Trial

TOKYO, Jan. 16–(Kyodo) — The defense counsel for Shoko Asahara, founder of the religious cult formerly known as AUM Shinrikyo, released parts of a psychiatrist’s report Monday that said he is unable to stand trial as he is in a confused state of mind.

The report of Masaaki Noda, professor at Kwansei Gakuin University, will be submitted to the Tokyo High Court to which Asahara, 50, whose actual name is Chizuo Matsumoto, has appealed the death sentence against him, the lawyers said.

Based on it, the lawyers will ask the high court to suspend the trial of Asahara, who has been accused of over 13 counts of crimes, including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

“If competency to stand trial is defined as understanding the meaning of the trial and the ability to defend oneself, then Matsumoto should be deemed lacking in such competency,” Noda said in the report.

He also wrote Matsumoto’s symptoms may improve in about half a year if he is given immediate psychological treatment and that reopening the trial after his recovery would be more practical than arguing over whether he is pretending to be ill or actually confused.

Three of the four psychiatrists, including Noda, who interviewed the defendant have so far come up with reports doubting his competency to stand trial, and another is compiling a report saying he is suffering from a mental disorder caused by staying in prison for long.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo High Court itself is also commissioning a psychiatric examination of Asahara, and the results may come out as early as February.

AUM Shinrikyo has renamed itself Aleph.

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Kyodo News Service, Japan
Jan. 16, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday January 16, 2006.
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