• By The Financial District


Prosecutors demanded the death penalty for a man dubbed Japan's "Twitter killer" after he was indicted over the 2017 serial murder of nine people who posted suicidal thoughts on social media, a high-profile case that shocked the nation, Kyodo news service reported.

In a lay judge trial at the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court, prosecutors sought the death penalty for Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, who pleaded guilty to murdering, dismembering and storing the bodies of the nine in his apartment near Tokyo. He is also alleged to have stolen cash from the victims and sexually assaulted all of the eight women. Shiraishi said Wednesday he expects to receive the death penalty, adding, "I humbly admit my guilt and will accept the punishment." After hearing the prosecutions call for him to be executed, Shiraishi maintained a calm demeanor and showed no emotion.

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"Nine young lives were taken in such a short period of two months," a prosecutor said, adding that his crimes "deserve death." Prosecutors also pointed out that there was no way the victims consented to being killed based on Shiraishi's testimony that they resisted when being strangled.

Throughout the trial, Shiraishi maintained "there was no consent" given by his victims, but his defense lawyers argued that he had their tacit approval as they met after sending direct messages to the defendant on Twitter such as "Let's die together" and "Please (kill me) by hanging." His defense team claimed Shiraishi is therefore guilty only of the lesser charge of homicide with consent and that the victims must have resisted when they were being strangled due to their "conditional reflexes."