Asahara’s lawyers release psychiatric evaluation saying he is fit to stand trial

Lawyers for condemned AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara released on Tuesday a report on the Tokyo High Court’s psychiatric evaluation of Asahara, which found him mentally fit to stand trial.

Three meetings with Asahara, 50, were held during the psychiatric evaluation. However meaningful conversation with him was not possible as Asahara chose to remain silent under his “free will,” the report said.

The 88-page report was divided into several sections including Asahara’s personal and medical history, and his mental condition. Sections discussing matters relating to his privacy were omitted.

The report said a psychiatrist observed the behavior of Asahara in his Tokyo detention cell between September and December last year, and questioned and conducted physical examinations on him.

During the questioning, Asahara provided virtually no meaningful answers, but he made statements that could be interpreted as meaning there was a conflict between him and his defense lawyers in the district court trial.

Asahara’s first reaction to imprisonment, according to the report, started in a public hearing on Oct. 18, 1996, when questioning of former senior cult member Yoshihiro Inoue began. Inoue is appealing the death sentence handed down on him.

Asahara protested against the questioning, but failed and when he returned to his cell he shouted out an expletive and threw some cheese at his cell wall, according to the report. Starting from then, he moved through a series of phases, including a period of uncertainty and agitation between October 1996 and March 1997, one of fantasy and fabricated stories lasting until about January 1998, and the current one in which he has remained silent, the report said.

The report added that Asahara repeatedly told lies based on fantasy due to his desire to escape from the trial. It concluded that “fighting with silence is the defendant’s decision.”

Lawyers said that by making the evaluation public and exposing it to verification, they hoped to “correct the injustice of the court, which ignored the opinions of lawyers in selecting an expert” for the psychiatric examination.

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death over a series of crimes including the deadly sarin gas attacks on Tokyo subway trains that killed 12 people and sickened thousands.

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Mainichi Daily News, Japan
Feb. 21, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday February 21, 2006.
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