A Japanese man, who has been called the “Twitter Killer” for luring victims on social media, in court admitted to killing nine people, AFP reported on Wednesday, citing local media.
The man, Takahiro Shiraishi, did not contest the nine counts of murder, saying “they were all correct.” His lawyer, however, argued for reducing charges against Shiraishi, claiming that the victims gave him consent to be killed. The lawyer said the victims had expressed suicidal thoughts.
If Shiraishi is convicted of murder, he will be given the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Japan. If the lawyer’s arguments are accepted, Shiraishi charges would be reduced to “murder with consent”, which carries a lower prison sentence of between six months and seven years.
However, in an interview with Japan-based newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, 29-year-old Shiraishi disagreed with his lawyer. He said he would tell the prosecutor that he “killed without consent.”
“There were bruises on the back of the victims’ heads,” Shiraishi told the newspaper. “It means there was no consent and I did it so that they wouldn’t resist”.
Shiraishi is accused of dismembering his victims and storing their body parts in coolboxes and is also reportedly facing rape charges.
The police had detained him in 2017 as part of their investigation in the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman who had reportedly tweeted about wanting to kill herself. Police officers found dismembered body parts and more than 240 bone parts at Shiraishi’s flat in the city of Zama, near Tokyo.
Shiraishi had used cat litter to hide the evidence.
After his arrest, the 29-year-old boasted that he was not identified until his last killing.
The victims of Shiraishi included three high school students, a female student, four women in their twenties and a 20-year-old man, BBC reported. The only male victim was killed after he confronted Shiraishi about the whereabouts of this government, the news channel said, citing Japanese media reports.
When the murders first came to light in 2017, a debate began on suicide websites in Japan. Suicide websites and social media groups can help individuals with information who wish to kill themselves.
Moreover, after the murders were reported, Twitter made changes to its rules, stating that users should not “promote or encourage suicide or self-harm.”
Japan has a high suicide rate, with more than 20,000 people dying by suicide in the country every year. However, the rates have dropped since the government introduced preventive measures a decade ago.