Asahara daughters, lawyers lose damages suit against state, doctor

(Kyodo) — The Tokyo District Court on Friday rejected a 50 million yen damages suit filed by two of AUM Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara‘s daughters and his lawyers seeking compensation for mental pains they suffered after the Tokyo High Court upheld the death sentence on the cult leader without holding a single hearing.

Presiding Judge Nobuhiro Katada rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the high court had put priority on getting Asahara’s trial finished and had decided from the very beginning he was competent to stand trial.

“There is no evidence the high court conducted the trial with an unlawful or unfair intention,” the judge said in handing down the ruling.

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The defendants in the suit were the government and a psychiatrist who conducted psychiatric checkups on Asahara, 52.

The three-judge panel at the district court rejected demands against the psychiatrist, saying the rights and wrongs of a decision by a court-entrusted medical expert cannot be the subject of a civil case.

The suit was filed by the second- and third-eldest daughters of Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and his lawyers.

The plaintiffs had argued that the high court put priority to an early conclusion of Asahara’s trial in an unlawful management of the case, insisting that the defense counsel could not communicate with Asahara, who they said was in mental disorder.

They also maintained that the psychiatrist accommodated the high court’s wish and made a wrong conclusion that Asahara was fit to stand trial.

In February 2004, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Asahara to death, finding him guilty on all 13 charges, including murder and attempted murder, for masterminding the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

The defense immediately filed an appeal with the Tokyo High Court.

But the high court upheld the death sentence in March 2006 without holding a hearing, after Asahara’s defense counsel failed to submit a written document stating the reason for the appeal by the high-court-set deadline.

In September 2006, the Supreme Court rejected a special appeal filed by the defense counsel, finalizing the death sentence.

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