Death penalty urged over Japan care home massacre

Murder suspect Satoshi Uematsu (left) as he returns to the Tsukui police station in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture July 27, 2016. — Jiji Press/AFP pic
Murder suspect Satoshi Uematsu (left) as he returns to the Tsukui police station in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture July 27, 2016. — Jiji Press/AFP pic

TOKYO, Feb 17 — Japanese prosecutors on Monday called for a 30-year-old man to be executed for allegedly murdering 19 disabled care home residents in one of the country’s worst mass killings.

Satoshi Uematsu, a former care home employee, did not dispute his involvement in the 2016 stabbing rampage during his first court appearance last month in Yokohama.

But his lawyers entered a plea of not guilty, saying their client was suffering a “mental disorder” linked to his use of marijuana.

Prosecutors have argued Uematsu was capable of taking responsibility for the attack, adding the rampage was “inhumane” and left “no room for leniency.”

Hearings are to be concluded later this week, with the verdict expected on March 16, according to the local court.

Uematsu has reportedly said he wanted to eradicate all people with disabilities in the horrifying attack at the Tsukui Yamayuri-en centre in the town of Sagamihara, southwest of Tokyo, as he claimed people with disabilities “only create unhappiness”.

Besides the 19 people killed, 26 people were injured.

Uematsu’s beliefs shocked Japan, with experts and activists raising questions about whether others might hold similar views.

Japan has been making efforts to increase accessibility — particularly in Tokyo ahead of this year’s Paralympic Games — and activists hailed last year’s election of two lawmakers with disabilities. — AFP

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