Defense files appeal against death sentence over Akihabara stabbing spree
April, 1 2011
The defense counsel for a former temporary worker filed an appeal with the Tokyo High Court on Thursday against last week’s death penalty imposed on the defendant over a stabbing spree in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics shopping district in 2008.
On March 24, the Tokyo District Court convicted Tomohiro Kato, 28, of driving a truck to run down five pedestrians, of whom three were killed and two injured, in a vehicle-free pedestrian zone in the district on June 8, 2008, and fatally stabbing four passersby with a dagger after getting out of the vehicle.
Kato was also found guilty of stabbing and injuring eight other people.
In the district court decision, Presiding Judge Hiroaki Murayama said, ‘‘It’s an inhumane and cruel act,’’ sentencing Kato to death as sought by prosecutors.
The district court rejected the defense counsel’s argument that the defendant was mentally incompetent at the time of the crime, saying he had the ability to assume criminal responsibility for the crime he committed.
Kato sentenced to hang over '08 Akihabara killing spree
March 24, 2011
The Tokyo District Court on Thursday sentenced a temporary worker to hang for the deadly vehicular and stabbing rampage in Tokyo's Akihabara district in 2008.
Tomohiro Kato, 28, stood accused of running down five pedestrians, killing three and injuring two, with a truck in a pedestrian-only zone in Akihabara on June 8, 2008, and fatally stabbing four passersby with a dagger. He also wounded eight others with the blade.
The mass but random killings were said at the time to be representative of the growing problem of social disparity in Japan. Before the rampage, Kato had posted messages on a mobile phone bulletin board in which he complained about his job and expressed his intent to commit the crime.
Because Kato, who was subdued at the scene, owned up to the charges, the focus of the trial was on his mental state at the time of the rampage.
Arguing he was mentally competent, prosecutors pointed to his attempts to justify himself in response to people who had harassed him on the bulletin board, branding his act "self-centered." They said his unstable employment, an inferiority complex about his appearance and his inability to find a girlfriend had also led him to commit the crime.
His counsel, in seeking leniency, argued his mental competency was diminished at the time of the crime.
Kato told the court at the end of the trial: "Now I think I should not have committed the incident and regret what I have done. . . . I feel sorry for the victims and their families and the people injured."
The crime led to a ban on possession of daggers and a suspension of the pedestrian-only zone in Akihabara.
Ex-temp worker sentenced to death over Akihabara stabbing rampage
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A former temporary worker who admitted to a stabbing rampage in Tokyo's Akihabara shopping district was sentenced to death Thursday at the Tokyo District Court, as prosecutors demanded.
Tomohiro Kato, 28, ran down five pedestrians, of whom three were killed and two were injured, with a truck in a vehicle-free pedestrian zone in Akihabara on June 8, 2008, and fatally stabbed four passersby with a dagger after getting out of the vehicle, according to the ruling.
Kato also stabbed and injured eight other people.
"It's an inhumane and cruel act. It's not an exaggeration to say that all of Japan was shocked by it," Presiding Judge Hiroaki Murayama said in handing down the ruling.
Murayama rejected the defense council's claim that Kato was mentally incompetent, saying he has the ability to assume criminal responsibility for the crime he committed.
Kato had posted messages on an online bulletin board in which he complained about his job while giving notice of his intention to commit the crime.
The court concluded Kato became irritated after the bulletin board, the only place where he felt he belonged, was trolled since late May in 2008, and the disappearance of his work clothes from his workplace exacerbated his anger.
Kato wanted to tell people to "stop harassing him by committing a major crime," the court said, adding that "the loss of his family, friends and job gave him a strong sense of isolation."
Arguing he was mentally competent, the prosecutors said he had tried to fight back in response to people who had harassed him on the bulletin board, branding his act "self-centered."
They said his insecure employment, an inferiority complex about his appearance and his lack of success in getting a girlfriend had also led him to commit the crime.
His defense council, in seeking leniency, had argued his mental competency was diminished at the time of the crime, saying he lost part of his memory.
Kato told the court at the end of the trial, "Now I think I should not have committed the incident and regret what I have done...I feel sorry for the victims and their families and the people injured."
The incident led to the revision of the firearms control law to ban the possession of daggers and to suspension of the car-free pedestrian zone, which was resumed in January on a trial basis.
Akihabara is popular among shoppers and tourists for its cluster of shops selling electronic products, "anime" and pop culture items.
(Mainichi Japan) March 24, 2011
Kato shouldn't be hanged: lawyers
The Japan Times: Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011
By SETSUKO KAMIYA
Tomohiro Kato was mentally ill and lacked the ability to control his actions when he murdered seven people and wounded 10 others on the streets of the Akihabara electronic district in 2008, defense attorneys told the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday, hoping to keep their client off death row.
"Right now, I regret and feel sorry for having committed the crime," Kato told the court at the conclusion of his trial. "I apologize to the bereaved families and the victims."
Prosecutors have demanded the death penalty for Kato, whom they argue was mentally sound and thus fully accountable for his actions. Kato owned up to the killings when the trial began in January 2010. The court is scheduled to hand down its verdict on March 24.
"Considering the graveness of the crime, we believe that it is best to let Kato think and repent for what he has done for the rest of his life," the defense team said.
In their closing argument, Kato's lawyers blamed a cell phone bulletin board site for contributing to the rage that motivated the confessed killer. Kato, they said, felt very close to those he communicated with frequently on the site. However, they allege he became extremely upset when others on the site posted false messages using his identity, causing confusion.
When the site administrator ignored his request to deal with the situation, defense attorneys said, Kato's stress level grew. Enraged, he began posting messages on the bulletin board saying he would commit a major crime.
"What he has done is inexcusable, but his intention was not to murder or injure people but to warn the administrator to fix the problem (of his hijacked identity)," they said, countering the prosecution's argument that Kato's anger toward his employer at a car assembly firm in Shizuoka Prefecture eventually transformed into a hatred of society.
The defense also questioned the credibility of the interrogation records, claiming Kato's memory of his actions before and during the rampage were impaired.
Kato is accused of driving a rented 2-ton truck into Akihabara's main street at around 12:30 p.m. on June 8, 2008, running over and killing three men. He then got out of the vehicle and stabbed four more people to death with a dagger.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Motive for Akihabara massacre hinted at
Tomohiro Kato told the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday that he was "fully responsible" for the 2008 vehicle and stabbing massacre in Tokyo's Akihabara district and said he had been harassed on a mobile phone bulletin board in the leadup to the attack.
Kato, 27, a former temporary worker, made the remarks in response to questions posed by his lawyers. He is on trial for the random killing of seven people and wounding of 10 others on June 8, 2008, when he drove into a crowd with a rented truck and then started stabbing people before being subdued.
Asked why he went on the rampage, Kato said: "There are three reasons. One is my own thinking. The two others are harassment against me on the bulletin board, and my way of life, which was deeply dependent on the board.
"There was someone who passed himself off as me (on the bulletin board), and there was harassment (against me) there," he told the court. "I believed my intention to stop the harassment would be conveyed if my crime was reported."
Asked what he meant by his "way of thinking," Kato said he wanted to "take action" to make others understand his feelings.
Apologizing to the victims, Kato said he wanted to clarify why he committed the crime so such a massacre would never happen again.
He also referred to childhood problems he had with his mother, claiming she pushed him into a bathtub because he wasn't good at arithmetic.
"I was also told to pick up rice on the floor and eat it, and I tried so hard to do that," Kato said.
But when his lawyer asked if childhood strains with his mother were part of the reasons for the crime, Kato said he doesn't intend to blame her or try to evade responsibility.
Tuesday's session was the 16th in Kato's trial.
Akihabara stabbing suspect pleads guilty, apologizes
28th January, 2010
The man charged over a stabbing rampage in Tokyo’s Akihabara district in June 2008 that killed seven people and wounded 10 others pleaded guilty at the Tokyo District Court on Thursday.
Tomohiro Kato, 27, said at the first hearing of his trial that he is ‘‘certainly the one who committed the crime’’ although he cannot remember some parts of what happened during the Sunday afternoon attack.
‘‘I’m sorry for the people who died and got injured,’’ said Kato, who was wearing a white shirt and black suit, bowing his head in apology.
Prosecutors argued in its opening statement that Kato ‘‘did not receive decent treatment’’ at the office where he was employed as a temporary worker and ‘‘felt that what he wrote about on a cellphone website was being ignored.’‘
‘‘So he hit on the idea of getting other people to acknowledge his existence by erupting in anger and committing a major crime,’’ they said.
Kato gave advance warning of his crime on the website along with a number of posts in which he vented his frustration with his workplace.
His defense lawyers argued it is doubtful if he was fully competent at the time of the crime, while denying part of the indictment by saying the defendant did not have any intention of killing one of the injured persons.
The prosecutors said, meanwhile, that Kato was inspired by a similar indiscriminate stabbing spree in March 2008 in Ibaraki Prefecture as well as an April 2005 incident in which three people were killed after a truck crashed into a shopping arcade in Sendai.
‘‘It is apparent that he kept these incidents in mind and decided to kill people at random in Akihabara, where he had been a number of times before,’’ according to the prosecutors.
In their opening statement, the defense lawyers said it is necessary to examine Kato’s background and the cellphone website to clarify the motive for his crime.
The trial is expected to focus on a psychiatric examination that found him mentally competent at the time of the crime.
The prosecution indicted Kato on charges of murder and attempted murder based on the result of the psychiatric evaluation.
Kato has been charged with running down five pedestrians, three of whom died, with a truck in a vehicle-free shopping area on June 8, 2008, and fatally stabbing four passersby with a dagger after getting out of the vehicle.
Eight others were injured in the stabbings, while one policeman was attacked but unharmed, according to the indictment.
The incident in the electronics shopping area, also a popular district with comic and animation fans, drew attention to the plight of temporary workers.
The next hearing will be held Feb 1.
Mental competency to be focal point
in Akihabara stabbing trial
Jan 7th, 2009
A 27-year-old man charged with the 2008 fatal stabbing rampage in Tokyo’s Akihabara district will challenge a psychiatric examination that found him mentally competent at the time of the crime during his trial from Jan. 28, sources close to the case said Wednesday.
The defense team for Tomohiro Kato, which has argued the exam result is not admissible as evidence, is expected to claim that he was mentally incompetent during the spree in which he killed seven people and injured 10 others on June 8, 2008, according to the sources. Given such circumstances, the Tokyo District Court has decided to summon the examiner as a witness to reevaluate the result at the request of prosecutors, according to the sources.
The trial looks set to be a lengthy one as more than 40 people, including survivors and bereaved family members, are expected to be called upon.
Akihabara marks 2nd anniversary of deadly stabbing rampage
08th June 2010
The Akihabara electronics shopping district marked the second anniversary Tuesday of a stabbing rampage in which seven people were killed and 10 others were injured, amid moves to reopen a pedestrian shopping zone.
Tomohiro Kato, a 27-year-old former temporary worker, has been charged with running down pedestrians with a truck in a vehicle-free shopping area in Chiyoda Ward on the afternoon of June 8, 2008, Sunday, and fatally stabbing passers-by with a dagger.
At a stand set up at the crossroads where the rampage took place, people, including victims of the rampage, placed flower bouquets and offered prayers.
Hiroshi Yuasa, a 56-year-old former taxi driver who was seriously injured in the incident, visited the crossroads early Tuesday morning and laid flowers.
‘‘I came to pray for those who lost their lives. I hope that many people will remember the tragedy of this incident,’’ Yuasa said.
Hiroshi Asakawa, a 42-year-old company employee who has visited the district often for more than 30 years, placed a bottle of water along with flowers at the site and said, ‘‘I still can’t believe what happened here. It should never happen again.’‘
Kato, who was arrested immediately at the scene of the assault, has been indicted on charges of murder and attempted murder, and his trial is still pending. He is known to have posted a series of messages on a mobile phone bulletin board warning about the deadly rampage in advance.
The anniversary came at a time when a committee on city planning in Akihabara, comprising local residents, shop owners and police, is seeking to reestablish the vehicle-free zone as early as mid-July following its suspension due to the rampage in the district, which attracts both Japanese and foreign comic and animation fans.
As a part of measures to prevent the recurrence of the incident, a total of 50 surveillance cameras have been set up in the busy district center since January.