Takahiro Shiraishi, a man who murdered nine people after contacting them on Twitter has been sentenced to death. Most of these people had posted suicidal thoughts on social media– a high-profile case that had left the country of Japan shocked.
The Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court found Takahiro Shiraishi, known as the Twitter killer, guilty of killing, dismembering and storing the bodies of the victims in his apartment in Zama, near Tokyo.
Shiraishi, 30, pleaded guilty and said he would not appeal his death sentence.
In 2017, police had arrested Shiraishi after finding the bodies of eight females and one male in cold-storage cases in his apartment. Investigators said Shiraishi approached the victims via Twitter, offering to assist them with their suicidal wishes. He killed the women, including teenagers, after raping them, and also killed a boyfriend of one of the women to silence him, investigators said.
On Twitter, Shiraishi used the name Hangman, promising to help his victims die and inviting them to his apartment. Although his defense lawyers argued that he assisted the victims’ suicidal wishes, Shiraishi later said he killed them without their consent.
In the ruling, presiding Judge Naokuni Yano said none of the victims agreed to be killed and that Shiraishi was fully responsible for their deaths, according to media reports.
He said the crime was extremely heinous and had caused fear and concern in a society where social media have become an indispensable part of everyday life, NHK public television reported.
The father of one victim, aged 25, told the court last month that he would “never forgive Shiraishi even if he dies”, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK. “Even now, when I see a woman of my daughter’s age, I mistake her for my daughter. This pain will never go away. Give her back to me,” he had said.
The murders also prompted a change by Twitter, which amended its rules to state users should not “promote or encourage suicide or self-harm”. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey called the case “extremely sad”.
Japan’s suicide rate ranks among the world’s highest. Following a recent decline, the number has climbed back this year as people were hit by the effects of the pandemic.
It is noteworthy that while the world was struggling to cope with the novel Coronavirus , Japan revealed its declining mental health even as they contained the virus. As per the official statistics released, Japan has lost more people to suicide in the month of October alone, than to COVID-19 in the year 2020. The monthly suicide figure increased to 2,153 for the month of October, according to data released by Japan’s National Police Agency. The figure has come as a shocking reminder of the effects of the novel coronavirus on one’s mental health.
Japan’s crime rate is relatively low, but it has experienced some recent high-profile killings. In July 2016, a former employee of a home for the disabled allegedly killed 19 residents and injured more than 20 others.
With inputs from Associated Press
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