A man who murdered and dismembered nine people he met on Twitter has been sentenced to death, in a case that has shocked Japan.
Takahiro Shiraishi, dubbed the “Twitter Killer”, was arrested in 2017 after police discovered nine heads along with a large number of arm and leg bones stashed in coolers and toolboxes in his flat in the Japanese city of Zama, near Tokyo.
Almost all of the victims were young women the 30-year-old met on Twitter. He admitted murdering and dismembering them.
Shiraishi used the social media site to lure suicidal women to his home, which Japanese media called the “house of horrors”, telling them he could help them die and, in some cases, allegedly claiming he would kill himself alongside them.
He strangled and dismembered eight women and one man between August and October 2017, said Japan’s Kyodo news agency.
More than 400 people turned up to watch the verdict on Tuesday, despite the court only having 16 seats available for the public, reported local media.
Public support for the death penalty remains high in Japan, one of the few developed nations to retain capital punishment.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty for Shiraishi, but his lawyers argued that he was guilty of the lesser charge of “murder with consent”, claiming his victims had given him their permission to kill them.
Shiraishi later disputed this, claiming he killed them without their consent.
On Tuesday, the judge who delivered the verdict said that “none of the victims agreed to be killed”. Judge Naokuni Yano said, “The defendant has been found to be fully responsible.”
The killings stunned Japan, triggering fresh debate about websites where depressed or terminally ill people discuss suicide.
The murders also prompted a change by Twitter, which amended its rules to state that users should not “promote or encourage suicide or self-harm”.
Up to 15 executions take place in Japan each year. Thirteen of those hanged in 2018 had taken part in the Tokyo subway sarin attack of 1995.