Killer, 11, to be placed in institution

Threat of time in solitary


A family court here decided Wednesday to institutionalize an 11-year-old girl who killed her classmate while at school in June.

Under the decision by the Nagasaki Family Court’s Sasebo branch, the girl can be kept in solitary confinement at the institution if her behavior is determined problematic. The step is effective for two years, beginning Wednesday.

Her name has been withheld because she is a minor.

The court ruled that the girl had firm intent and killed the friend as planned.

“She has no disorder resulting from any mental illness,” presiding Judge Heinai Komatsu said in handing down the decision, according to court officials. “She fed her aggressive ego, affected by horror novels she had immersed herself in.”

In response to the court decision, the child consultation office in Sasebo is expected to send the girl to Japan’s only state-run facility for girls that is empowered to lock inmates in solitary.

The institution is in Tochigi Prefecture.

There are 58 similar facilities in Japan, established under the Child Welfare Law. But only two, one for boys and the one to which the girl will be sent, are permitted to keep the children locked in solitary confinement. People aged 20 or younger who have committed or are feared to commit serious offenses are sent to such facilities.

The girl killed Satomi Mitarai, 12, on June 1 by slashing her throat with a box cutter in an empty classroom of Okubo Elementary School in Sasebo during lunch hour. Mitarai bled to death.

Earlier, investigative sources said the girl told police she killed Mitarai because the victim had taunted her on an Internet bulletin board.

The girls each had a Web site and often used their personal computers to communicate via text messages.

Mitarai had written a message that the girl did not like, the sources said, and they argued after the girl asked Mitarai to stop sending such messages.

The family court held a secret session Wednesday.

The girl, her lawyer and parents, and 11 other concerned people were in attendance, according to court officials.

Under the Juvenile Law, the girl will not be held criminally liable because she is younger than 14.

Police had to refer the case to a local child consultation office immediately after taking the child into custody.

The consultation office sent the girl to the family court with recommendations to justify putting her into a facility that can keep her in solitary.