Japanese ‘Twitter killer’ sentenced to death for hacking up 9 victims

TOKYO – A Japanese court on Tuesday sentenced a man to death for murdering and dismembering nine people, most of whom had posted suicidal thoughts on social media, in a case that shocked the country.

The Tachikawa Branch of the Tokyo District Court found Takahiro Shiraishi, known as the “Twitter killer”, guilty of murdering, dismembering and storing the victims’ bodies in his apartment in Zama, near Tokyo.

Shiraishi, 30, pleaded guilty and said he would not appeal his death sentence.

Police arrested Shiraishi in 2017 after finding the bodies of eight women and a man in cold rooms in his apartment.

Investigators said Shiraishi approached the victims via Twitter and offered to help them with their suicidal wishes. He killed the women, including teenagers, after raping them, and also killed a friend of one of the women to silence him, investigators said.

On Twitter, Shiraishi used the name “Hangman”, promising to help his victims die and inviting them to his apartment.

Although his lawyers claimed he supported the victims’ suicidal wishes, Shiraishi later said he murdered them without their consent.

In the ruling, Chairman Naokuni Yano said that none of the victims agreed to be killed and that Shiraishi was fully responsible for their deaths, according to media reports.

He said the crime was extremely heinous and had caused fear and concern in a society where social media has become an indispensable part of everyday life, the NHK public broadcaster reported.

The suicide rate in Japan is among the highest in the world. After a recent decline, the numbers have risen again this year as people were affected by the effects of the pandemic.

Crime rates in Japan are relatively low, but there have been some high profile murders recently. In July 2016, a former employee of a disabled home is said to have killed 19 residents and injured more than 20 others.