TOKYO, Dec. 13–(Kyodo) _ Prosecutors have recognized that AUM cult founder Shoko Asahara is suffering from a mental disorder that stems from being detained for so long, but has rejected calls to suspend a hearing of his appeal case on the grounds that he is incompetent to stand trial, his defense lawyers said Monday.
The lawyers told a press conference that the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office referred to Asahara’s disorder in a written opinion it recently submitted to the Tokyo High Court.
The prosecutors said, however, that it is “difficult to argue about his competency to stand trial based solely on the detention disorder,” according to the lawyers.
Noting that medical checkups did not detect any brain disorder in him and that his mental disorder does not affect his daily life, the prosecutors maintained their position against allowing a suspension of his trial or a psychiatric examination, as urged by the defense.
With a meeting among the court, defense and prosecution slated for Friday, the defense lawyers said some kind of decision is expected to be reached at it.
The prosecutors inserted in their document to the court a psychiatrist’s opinion that it is “natural to think it (Asahara’s current condition) is linked to the symptoms of detention (disorder) in light of his nearly 10 years’ imprisonment.”
But at the same time they noted that Asahara looks content when he is visited by his daughter at his cell and communicates with detention officials in his daily life.
The defense lawyers have countered this argument, saying, “A judgment should be based on a comprehensive view” and not just on a few instances. They are expected to submit their options to the same court soon.
Late last month, they asked the high court to suspend Asahara’s appeal case on the grounds that he is incompetent to stand trial, saying they had met Asahara, 49, more than 30 times since July but he never gave any reaction when they spoke to him.
Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death at the Tokyo District Court in February over 13 cases, including the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.
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