TOKYO, March 27–(Kyodo) _ Victims of incidents related to AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara on Monday backed a high court’s rejection of his appeal against the death sentence while some questioned it, calling on authorities to give him a further chance to account for the cases.
Shizue Takahashi, who lost her husband in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, one of the 13 cases which Asahara was charged with, said it was “good” for the Tokyo High Court to reject his appeal.
“It’s (already) been 11 years since the incident. The elapsed time is too long for a person who has lost a beloved relative” although it may have been necessary to take that long, given the sheer number of cases and defendants involved, Takahashi said.
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Taro Takimoto, a lawyer who helps victims of AUM-related incidents, said the rejection of the appeal was “inevitable” because the defense had failed to present the required papers before the court-mandated deadline in August last year.
Tomoyuki Oyama, who lost his daughter in the 1989 murder of the entire family of anti-AUM lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto in Yokohama, said, “It was a logical conclusion. I believe it was really good, a reasonable decision.”
The court on Monday rejected an appeal filed by the defense counsel of Asahara, born Chizuo Matsumoto, increasing the likelihood that his death sentence will stand without an appeal court hearing.
Lawyer Hisashi Okada, one of Sakamoto’s former colleagues, said he was dissatisfied with the high court’s rejection on procedural grounds because it means the judicial authorities have effectively closed the doors on efforts to get to the bottom of the crimes.
“I wanted the man to tell the truth about a series of incidents which claimed many people’s life. In that sense, I still feel discontent,” Okada said.
Video journalist Tatsuya Mori who directed documentary films on the cult, called “A” and “A2,” urged the people concerned to take steps to cure the mental illnesses Asahara is believed to have as psychiatric doctors have said they are curable.
“It was abominable to terminate a trial citing a delay in procedures,” Mori said.