Japan 'Twitter killer' victims consented to their deaths, say lawyers
Tokyo (AFP) –
A Japanese man dubbed the "Twitter killer" for luring his victims on social media admitted in court Wednesday to killing nine people, local media said.
But lawyers for Takahiro Shiraishi, 29, argued the charges should be reduced because the victims -- who had expressed suicidal thoughts -- gave their consent to be killed.
Shiraishi, who is also accused of dismembering his victims and storing body parts in coolboxes, did not contest nine counts of murder, saying they "are all correct", public broadcaster NHK reported.
He is accused of using Twitter to contact victims aged between 15 and 26 who talked online about committing suicide, telling them he could help them in their plans -- or even die alongside them.
His lawyers want the charges against him reduced to "murder with consent", which carries a prison sentence of between six months and seven years.
Shiraishi was detained three years ago by police investigating the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman who had reportedly tweeted about wanting to take her own life.
After she went missing, her brother apparently hacked into her Twitter account, and noticed a suspicious handle.
Police uncovered a grisly house of horrors behind Shiraishi's front door on the morning of Halloween in 2017.
Nine dismembered bodies, with as many as 240 bone parts stashed in coolers and toolboxes, has been sprinkled with cat litter in a bid to hide the evidence.
More than 600 people lined up for 13 public gallery seats to observe Wednesday's first hearing, NHK said.
If convicted of murder Shiraishi faces the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Japan.
Japan has the highest suicide rate among the Group of Seven industrialised nations, with more than 20,000 people taking their lives annually.
The suicide rate has been falling since it peaked in 2003, however
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