Ex-employee sentenced to death for killing 19 at centre for disabled
YOKOHAMA: A Japanese man was sentenced to death yesterday for the stabbing murders of 19 disabled people at a care home, in one of the country's worst mass killings.
Satoshi Uematsu never disputed his involvement in the grisly rampage, but his lawyers entered a plea of not guilty, arguing the 30-year-old was suffering from a "mental disorder" linked to his use of marijuana.
The court ruled that the former employee of the facility deserved no leniency over the 2016 attack, which sent shockwaves through Japan.
"The lives of 19 people were taken away. This is profoundly grave," Chief Judge Kiyoshi Aonuma told the court.
Uematsu planned the murders and had "an extreme intention to kill", he added.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty - which is implemented by hanging - and argued that the defendant was capable of taking responsibility for the violence at the Tsukui Yamayuri-en centre, just outside Tokyo.
Uematsu was impassive as the verdict was announced, looking straight ahead at the judge as he was sentenced.
He wore a black suit with his hair in a long ponytail down to his waist and was flanked by six uniformed court officers wearing surgical masks.
Uematsu, who faced six charges including murder, reportedly said before the trial that he would not appeal any verdict, though he argued that he did not deserve the death penalty.
TURNED HIMSELF IN
He has reportedly said he wanted to eradicate all disabled people in the horrifying attack that also left 26 people wounded.
He turned himself in to police after the assault, carrying bloodied knives.
It later emerged that he had left his job at the home just months earlier and been forcibly hospitalised after telling colleagues he intended to kill disabled people at the centre.
But he was discharged after just 12 days when a doctor decided he was not a threat. He had also written a letter outlining plans to attack the home, claiming "disabled people only create unhappiness".
Among the few victims to be identified publicly was a 19-year-old woman, Miho, whose mother had said that Uematsu "didn't need a future".
"I hate you so much. I want to rip you apart. Even the most extreme penalty is light for you. I will never forgive you," she said before the verdict, according to broadcaster NHK. - AFP