/

Suspect flip-flops on email threats

In shocking confession, calls himself a psychopath

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

A computer expert on trial for sending violent threats from other people’s hacked computers has admitted he’s guilty, calling himself “a psychopath” in a surprise confession, his lawyer said Tuesday, potentially ending a case that had earlier seen police arrest the wrong suspects.

Former IT worker Yusuke Katayama, 32, was first arrested in February but insisted he was “utterly innocent.” In a conversation with his lawyer on Tuesday morning, he delivered a full confession, saying he is capable of deception without feeling the slightest remorse, according to the attorney, Hiroshi Sato.

The Tokyo District Court later revoked Katayama’s bail upon a request by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office. He was rearrested and held at the Tokyo Detention House.

The case dates from 2012, when emails and message-board comments threatening murder and bomb attacks were traced to certain computers. Police arrested four people and secured confessions from two of them, but dropped charges in October 2012 when a fifth individual contacted media organizations and claimed to be the perpetrator.

Katayama began sending threats from hijacked computers “just out of curiosity” and took perverted satisfaction when police made false arrests, said Sato, quoting his client.

“I think I’m a psychopath, because lies just come out of me naturally,” Sato quoted Katayama as saying Tuesday morning. The IT professional said his morbid mentality grew to “a point of no return,” according to Sato.

The trial took a new turn last week, when a person claiming to be “the real culprit” sent an email to media organizations on Friday, at a time when Katayama was in the Tokyo District Court. The writer claimed to have “successfully made a scapegoat” of him.

It later emerged that Katayama had sent the email from a device with a delayed send facility, the lawyer said. Authorities had spotted him acting suspiciously Thursday near the Arakawa riverbank in Edogawa Ward, burying a smartphone on which the email was allegedly found.

Sato said he had confidently vouched for Katayama’s innocence from the start, but admitted to reporters Tuesday he had been “fooled” all along. He added, however, that he does not resent the betrayal.

After learning that authorities had discovered his phone on the riverbank, Katayama ceased taking calls from his lawyer and apparently went missing, skipping a news conference scheduled Monday. It turned out that Katayama had headed for the hills and at that time was wandering on Mt. Takao in western Tokyo, trying to figure out a way to kill himself, Sato said.

Cowering beneath the platform at a nearby railway station Monday night, Katayama phoned his lawyer and conveyed his wish to kill himself. He sounded panicked, explaining that he had never dreamed he was being followed by police when he allegedly buried the phone.

“He told me he considered hanging himself with his own belt or throwing himself under a train, but couldn’t bring himself to do either,” Sato said.

As for the red herring email sent Friday, Katayama had “wanted to end the trial as soon as possible” and to “give ease to his mother,” to whom the ordeal had caused distress, Sato said.

In March, Katayama was freed on ¥10 million bail, a sum his mother provided. Sato said there is no chance she will recover the money, given Katayama’s “egregious” act of concealing evidence.

Sato said Katayama had planned to use Friday’s email trick as a decoy at the time of his sentencing, should he be found guilty. He decided to carry it out last week to try to end his mother’s ordeal early.

Sato said he is considering recommending that Katayama be given a psychiatric examination.