• Kyodo


Prosecutors on Monday turned over to the Hiroshima Family Court the 17-year-old youth arrested in the May 3-4 hijacking of an expressway bus in Saga Prefecture, in line with the Juvenile Law. One woman was killed in the incident.

Prosecutors, however, want the court to send the case back to their jurisdiction and allow them to have the boy tried before a local district court, where the accused would be tried under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

If found guilty by the family court, the youth would probably be sent to a correctional institution for juveniles.

The family court is expected to make its decision within four weeks, unless the process is interrupted by a psychiatric test.

The boy, whose identity is being withheld under the Juvenile Law, was arrested May 4 after he commandeered the bus and held the passengers and driver hostage at knifepoint for 15 hours.

In their report sent to the family court, the prosecutors did not specify the boy’s motive for the hijacking.

An earlier psychiatric test showed he may be suffering from a mental disorder. He had been released from a mental institution in Saga only hours before he hijacked the bus on May 3.

Michiko Kawanobe, deputy chief of the Hiroshima District Public Prosecutor’s Office, said, “We believe this case will be handed back to us, and we will make his motive public at the first hearing in the district court” after he is indicted.

On the same day, the family court moved to place the boy in protective custody and have him transferred from a local police station, where he has been held for about one month, to a Hiroshima juvenile correctional facility.

The boy’s attorneys are expected to ask the court to administer a full-scale psychiatric exam soon.

The Penal Code prohibits the punishment of people determined by a medical examination to be mentally unfit.

A summary psychiatric test performed by a Hiroshima doctor last month concluded that it was not immediately apparent whether the boy has sufficient mental capacity to enable him to be held liable for his crimes.

Yet the prosecutors maintain that “(he had) at least limited mental capacity,” citing his actions during the hijacking and coherence observed in his statements during questioning.

The family court will determine the course of action after reviewing the crimes and psychological evaluation.

Meanwhile, it can also conduct its own mental examination over the next one to four months.

If it decides that the boy should be tried as a criminal, he will be sent back to the prosecutors and be tried under the same procedure as adults.

The boy commandeered the bus, bound for Fukuoka from Saga, on the afternoon of May 3. He stabbed a 68-year-old passenger to death with a kitchen knife and injured two others before being subdued the next day at a highway rest area in Hiroshima Prefecture, investigators said.

Police sources quoted him as saying he wanted to get even with his parents, who had him admitted to a mental institution without his consent two months before the hijacking.

A dropout from one of the best high schools in Saga Prefecture, the boy was behaving violently to his parents and increasingly holing himself up in his room. People who know him say he had been bullied at school.

The hijacking followed the May 1 fatal stabbing of a woman in her home in Aichi Prefecture at the hands of another 17-year-old boy, who was later arrested and quoted by police as saying he wanted to experience killing a human being.

In yet another incident, a 17-year-old boy hit a stranger in the head with a hammer on a train in Yokohama on May 12, leaving the man seriously injured.

The youth was quoted by police as saying he left home at 2 a.m. that day and waited around to find someone to attack.