Takuma hangs for massacre of eight kids at Osaka school

Killer had sought swift justice for '01 Ikeda stabbings

Mamoru Takuma, who murdered eight children at an Osaka elementary school in 2001, was hanged Tuesday at the Osaka Detention House, sources said.

A three-time killer in Kyushu also went to the gallows.

Takuma, 40, was convicted of murder and attempted murder over the stabbing spree at Osaka Kyoiku University Ikeda Elementary School in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, on June 8, 2001. In addition to killing the eight children, he wounded 13 other students and two teachers.

Takuma was sentenced to death by the Osaka District Court in August 2003 and his defense team filed an appeal. But Takuma withdrew the appeal toward the end of the following month, finalizing the sentence. At the time, he said he did not want to live on without a purpose.

An execution less than a year after a death penalty is finalized is extremely rare. Most convicts spend years on death row, and in recent years the shortest time spent waiting for execution was four years.

Takuma made public through his lawyers soon after his sentence was made final a letter in which he requested that his execution be carried out “within three months if possible.”

Relatives of his victims had also sought swift punishment, saying they wished to see him die suffering, just like his prey.

Parents of the victims expressed mixed feelings toward the news, with some saying they had hoped Takuma would apologize.

“It is regrettable that he had no sense of atonement up to the final moment,” said Masako Totsuka, whose 6-year-old son, Takahiro, was among those murdered.

Also executed Tuesday was Sueo Shinmaki, a 59-year-old mobster who was being held at the Fukuoka Detention House after being convicted of three murders in Kyushu in 1988.

With the day’s executions, 46 people have been executed since a roughly 40-month moratorium ended in 1993.

The last execution took place Sept. 12, 2003, also at the Osaka Detention House.

Takuma, who was overpowered at the scene of the massacre, pleaded guilty. The focus of his district court trial was whether he could be held criminally responsible for his actions.

Two psychiatric tests — one performed before indictment and the other during the trial — both determined he could be held responsible.

In its August 2003 ruling, the district court noted that Takuma suffered from a serious “personality disorder” that made him self-centered and oblivious to the pain of others. However, it concluded there could be “no room for debate that he has sufficient ability to be held criminally responsible.”

Immediately after his arrest, Takuma spoke and acted strangely, but he later stated he thought he could escape being punished if he feigned being addicted to drugs or suffering from a psychiatric disorder.

After his sentence was finalized, Takuma married one of his supporters.

Shigeki Todani, one of Takuma’s lawyers, said he learned of the execution through Takuma’s wife.