Ikebukuro killer insane, lawyers say

Lawyers for Hiroshi Zota, who went on a rampage in September on a street in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, killing two people and injuring eight others, claimed Wednesday that their client was probably insane at that time. Appearing in his first trial session before the Tokyo District Court, Zota, 24, owned up to charges that he randomly killed and injured his victims on Sept. 8. But his lawyer said the defendant may not be held liable for the charges because he was most likely suffering from either an unsound or feeble mind, and asked the court to conduct a psychiatric test at an early stage of the trial proceedings. The lawyer told the court that prior to the crime, Zota had behaved strangely in writing a senseless letter to the Foreign Ministry and often talking about a “silent” phone call he received. The defense team said it will offer its opinion on whether Zota intended to kill the victims in later hearings. “The details in the indictment are correct,” Zota told the judges. He listened with downcast eyes while a prosecutor read the statement. According to prosecutors, Zota, a former newspaper deliveryman, entered a prominent high school in Okayama Prefecture, but had to leave the school early and forgo a college education for financial reasons. Working as a newspaper deliveryman, he was thrown into despair at the thought that he would have to be a blue-collar worker for the rest of his life, they said, adding that he gradually came to harbor ill feelings toward those who lived more fortunate lives. When Zota received a crank phone call one September night, his smoldering resentment flared up and he decided to kill people to create a stir, according to the prosecutors. On Sept. 8, Zota randomly attacked his victims with a kitchen knife and hammer on a busy street near Ikebukuro Station, killing two women, they said. He was subdued by two passersby and later arrested by police.Shimonoseki slayings> Defense attorneys for a 35-year-old man who in September randomly killed five people and injured 10 others in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, said Wednesday they will contest the criminal liability of their client because he was insane at the time of the offense. In the first trial hearing before the Shimonoseki Branch of the Yamaguchi District Court, Yasuaki Uwabe admitted he indiscriminately killed the victims on Sept. 29 at JR Shimonoseki Station. The trial is expected to focus on whether Uwabe can be held liable, because he had been treated by a psychiatrist until the day before the attack and took 120 sleeping pills that day. After his arrest, he reportedly told investigators that he wanted to “kill other people if I was going to die anyway.” Prosecutors reckoned Uwabe can be held liable because he carefully plotted the scheme by purchasing a kitchen knife and casing the station beforehand. A simple psychiatric test conducted by investigative authorities before he was indicted also showed he was sane at the time, they said. Uwabe drove into a concourse at Shimonoseki Station with a rented car and ran down passersby, leaving two dead and five injured. He then stabbed three people to death and wounded five.