[IWAR] JAPAN Supreme Truth

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Tue Dec 02 1997 - 09:38:06 PST

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    This comes as no surprise, given the Olympics. --MW
                    Japan to speed up trial of subway bombing suspect
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 Reuters
       TOKYO (December 2, 1997 06:41 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - Japanese
       prosecutors said Tuesday they would take the rare step of speeding up
       the snail-paced murder trials of the doomsday cult guru accused of
       masterminding the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing.
       Shoko Asahara, leader of Aum Shinri Kyo (Aum Supreme Truth Sect), stands
       accused of the March 20, 1995, gas attack, which killed 12 people and
       made thousands ill.
       "The prolongation of Asahara's trials would sharply amplify public
       distrust in Japan's criminal justice," deputy chief prosecutor Kunihiro
       Matsuo told a news conference. "This is also an extremely serious issue
       in terms of maintaining order.
       The prosecutors office said it would drastically reduce the number of
       people listed in the indictments as "injured" in the two separate gas
       attacks so that they could shorten court proceedings.
       The number of victims on whom prosecutors would need to present evidence
       and examine as witnesses would be slashed to 18 from 3,938. It said that
       the step was extremely rare.
       Asahara, 42, also faces 16 other charges, including the masterminding of
       a separate nerve gas attack in the central Japanese city of Matsumoto in
       July 1994 that killed seven people and hurt 144.
       More than 120 of Asahara's followers, including his wife, his personal
       physician and close aides, have also been indicted for the subway attack
       and on other criminal charges.
       Matsuo said the measures announced Tuesday would help cut the length of
       the trial by up to eight years. Unless the step was taken, prosecutors
       would need about 25 more years to fully prove Asahara guilty, he said.
       "Society demands that the trials proceed properly and speedily and
       verdicts be handed down early, he said.
       The Tokyo court holds four hearings each month on Asahara's trial, but
       Matsuo said that was not enough.
       "With only four hearings a month, the pace of the trials will
       drastically slow down. We need six to eight," he said.
       Asahara, whose given name is Chizuo Matsumoto, has not entered a plea
       and the trial has often been marred by his outbursts against the judges,
       prosecutors, witnesses and even his own lawyers.
       If he is found guilty on the murder charges, he faces a mandatory death
       sentence by hanging.

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