National / Crime & Legal

Man on trial over Sagamihara rampage says he felt murders 'would benefit society'

Kyodo

A man on trial over a fatal knife rampage in 2016 at a care home for people with mental disabilities told a court Wednesday that he committed the murders because he felt “it would be beneficial to society.”

Satoshi Uematsu, 30, who has admitted to killing 19 residents and injuring dozens more at the facility in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, made the remark in response to questioning by a victim’s relative at the 10th hearing of his trial at the Yokohama District Court. The question was posed by the younger brother of a 60-year-old woman who was killed in the attack.

When asked about his current state of mind, Uematsu said, “It pains me to talk with the family of the deceased,” and that he apologized to the victims. But he attempted to justify his actions, saying, “I think (the attack) was the most meaningful thing I could do,” adding, “It is wrong to take care of those with serious mental disabilities.”

Takashi Ono, 76, whose son Kazuya, 46, sustained severe injuries in the attack, also questioned Uematsu.

“The family (of the disabled) was able to live with happiness, along with concern about (their disability). You took that away (from us),” Ono said. In response, Uematsu apologized to the family.

Uematsu’s mental competency has been a major focus of the trial, with the defense saying he was suffering a mental disorder triggered by marijuana use at the time of the attack. Prosecutors argue he was mentally competent.

According to the indictment, Uematsu, a former employee of the Tsukui Yamayuri En care home, fatally stabbed 19 people and injured 24 others at the facility in the early hours of July 26, 2016.

He is also accused of injuring two employees at the facility by binding them to handrails in a corridor of the building.

In consideration of the victims and their families, the court has withheld the identities of the residents who were attacked, with the exception of Ono. The victims have instead been identified using combinations of kanji and Roman letters.

A 19-year-old victim was also originally referred to using the same system, but her family requested that the court use her first name, Miho.

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