• Kyodo


The case of the 17-year-old boy arrested in the fatal May 3-4 bus hijacking will be moved to the Saga Family Court, the Hiroshima Family Court said Tuesday, dismissing opposition from his lawyers and parents.

The Hiroshima court, where the local prosecutors sent the boy’s case on Monday after wrapping up their investigation, said the Saga court is in a better position to handle the case because most of his relatives and acquaintances live in Saga.

The boy, who is from Saga, was arrested by Hiroshima police at an expressway parking area in Higashi-Hiroshima on May 4. The bus had been driven eastward for more than 300 km on the expressway during the 15-hour hijacking ordeal.

Normally, under the Juvenile Law the family court nearest the home of a suspect who is a minor is designated to handle the case.

But the Hiroshima-based lawyers for the youth have been urging the family court not to transfer him to Saga, saying his parents do not want their son examined and tried in their home town as it will inevitably draw frenzied media attention.

In deciding to move the boy to Saga, Judge Mihoko Mizutani of the Hiroshima Family Court said that due to the seriousness of the incident, the boy’s background must be thoroughly examined.

Doctors at a Saga mental institution, where the boy had been hospitalized until shortly before he hijacked the bus, should also be interviewed, the judge added.

The boy’s Hiroshima lawyers said they were surprised with the family court’s decision and indicated they may take legal action to reverse it.

The Saga Bar Association said it will start selecting local lawyers to be in charge of the case.

“The decision is understandable, but I am worried that (the trial of the boy in Saga) could cause a major commotion there,” said Kazuma Maeda, chairman of the association. He said he will get in touch with the Hiroshima lawyers who handled the case.

On Monday, the Hiroshima District Public Prosecutor’s Office sent the boy to the Hiroshima Family Court, which then placed him in a local juvenile correction facility.

With the court’s decision, the boy will soon be moved to Saga, with all the investigation documents turned over to the Saga Family Court.

Since a summary psychiatric test by a Hiroshima doctor suggested that the boy may be suffering from a mental disorder, the Saga court is expected to carry out a full psychological examination.