A Japanese man has pleaded guilty to killing nine people after contacting Twitter in a high-profile case that shocked the country.
Dubbed the “Twitter Killer”, Takahiro Shiraishi was arrested in 2017 after body parts were found in his flat.
He told a Tokyo court on Wednesday that the allegations against him were “all true.”
But his lawyers argue that his charges should be dropped because his victims apparently consented to the murder.
If convicted of murder, Mr. Shiraishi faces the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Japan.
The court case has drawn widespread interest in reports that more than 100 people are running for 13 public gallery seats to watch the first hearing on Wednesday, the public broadcaster NHK noted.
The defendant says the defendant opened a Twitter account in March 2017 to “contact women contemplating suicide, which he saw as easy targets,” the NHK said.
Among its victims were eight women, one of whom was 15 years old.
Japanese media reported that the only male victim at the age of 20 was killed after confronting Mr Shiraishi over the search for his wife.
The 29-year-old man is believed to have lured his victims by saying he could kill them and in some cases claimed he would kill them.
His Twitter profile reads: “I really want to help people who are suffering. Please DM [direct message] Whenever i like “
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The serial murder incident first came to light when police were investigating the disappearance of a young woman who later turned out to be one of the victims.
Officers visited Mr. Shiraishi’s flat in Zama, a Japanese city near Tokyo, where they found body parts.
What do his lawyers say?
Mr Shiraishi’s lawyers have argued that his victims consented to the killings, so the charges should be “consensual killing”. This carries a lower prison sentence of six months to seven years.
But it is reported that Mr. Shiraishi does not agree with his lawyers.
He told the local daily Manichi Shimb that he killed without the consent of his victims.
In a comment released Wednesday, he said the victims had bruises on the back of their heads. That means there is no consent and I did it so they wouldn’t resist.
What was the effect of the murder?
Serial killings have stunned Japan. When they opened in 2017, they started a new discussion about websites that discuss suicide. The government at the time indicated it could introduce new rules.
- Japan will take action on the suicide website
The killings also prompted a change via Twitter, which amended its rules to state users to “not or should not promote suicide or self-harm.”
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, said the case was “extremely” tragic at the time.
Japan has long struggled with the highest suicide rate in the industrialized world, although the numbers have fallen since preventive measures were introduced more than a decade ago.
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