Prosecutors demand death penalty for alleged torcher of Takefuji unit


Prosecutors demanded the death penalty Thursday for Mitsuhiro Kobayashi, who had been indicted on charges of murdering five people by setting fire to a Takefuji Corp. branch in Aomori Prefecture.

According to the indictment, the 44-year-old former taxi driver broke into the Hirosaki branch of the major consumer credit company on the morning of May 8, 2001, sprinkled gasoline on the floor and demanded money.

Kobayashi is accused of igniting the gasoline after the branch manager refused his demand. Five employees were killed and four others suffered serious burns.

“The defendant has a great responsibility in this extremely atrocious crime,” prosecutors told the Aomori District Court.

Kobayashi has pleaded guilty but denies intending to kill the five, saying, “I did not break into Takefuji to deprive the five people of their lives, nor did I set the fire with the intention to murder.”

Prosecutors countered by saying Kobayashi was aware that igniting the gasoline could endanger or kill the employees and that he also knew they would have no way to escape because of the branch’s design.

Noting that Kobayashi had made up his mind to rob the company to pay off his gambling debts, the prosecutors stressed there is “no room for sympathy.”

The fact that Kobayashi did not stop gambling afterward shows that he never repented for the crime, they said.

Kobayashi’s defense team is expected to make its final arguments Nov. 14.