OTSU, SHIGA PREF. – The Shiga Prefectural Police will turn two teenage boys over to prosecutors and hand one the same age to a child consultation center in connection with a fatal bullying case last October that attracted nationwide attention, investigative sources said.
The decision, leaked Saturday, raised eyebrows because the suspects, who are all now 15, were minors at the time the bullying took place and will now be tried as adults. Cases involving minors are usually sent to the family courts.
The three suspects allegedly bullied their junior high school classmate into committing suicide in October 2011 after reportedly tying his hands, taping his mouth and forcing him to rehearse his own death. The high-profile case has since heightened public concerns about similar bullying cases nationwide.
The decision comes after police analyzed teachers’ diaries and interviewed about 360 students who were in the same grade as the 13-year-old victim, the sources said. In February, the boy’s parents sued the city and three classmates, who were 14 at the time they allegedly bullied him.
In July, investigators from the prefectural police searched the school and the office of the education board in Otsu for evidence. The education board then admitted the same month that it did not conduct an adequate investigation into the case. The admission came seven months after the board released a public statement in November 2011 in which it said it “cannot judge” whether any link existed between the suicide and the bullying.
After the case began attracting media attention, police finally allowed the father of the boy to file an official complaint against the alleged bullies for violence, extortion and theft.