• Kyodo

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The Saga Family Court issued an order Friday to send to a medical juvenile reformatory a 17-year-old boy accused of hijacking a bus for 15 hours, killing a passenger and wounding five people in May.

Judge Katsuki Nagatome said the boy needs medical treatment for a dissociative disorder. He also said the court recognizes that the boy was mentally competent to take responsibility for his actions at the time of the hijacking.

At the reformatory, the boy will be put under psychiatric observation and receive counseling and medical treatment.

The court made the decision after examining reports containing details of the boy’s life and his psychiatric evaluation.

A preliminary psychiatric test released in late May said doctors who examined the boy could not immediately determine whether he was mentally competent to assume responsibility for his actions, as he may be suffering from a serious mental disorder.

However, prosecutors in Hiroshima who questioned the boy previously declared him mentally competent. Before the youth was sent to his hometown of Saga on June 7 to enter an institute for juvenile offenders, the prosecutors argued that he be tried in a criminal court.

The Juvenile Law allows the family court to decide whether a suspect between the ages of 16 and 19 facing serious charges should be tried in a criminal court.

However, doctors who conducted psychiatric examinations for three months after the boy was sent to the Saga Family Court said that although the boy was mentally competent to take responsibility for his behavior, he was suffering from dissociative and behavioral disorders and could potentially develop schizophrenia.

The doctors recommended that the boy be put under the observation of psychiatrists at the medical juvenile reformatory and receive treatment.

Friday’s hearing was conducted behind closed doors, in accordance with the Juvenile Law, and the boy was accompanied by his lawyers.

By law, the media are not allowed to disclose his name.

The boy was arrested May 4 in Higashi-Hiroshima, after commandeering a Fukuoka-bound bus from Saga on the afternoon of May 3.

During the ordeal, a 68-year-old woman was fatally stabbed and five other passengers were injured, two of them seriously.

The incident took place just hours after the boy was released from a national rehabilitation center in Saga Prefecture were he had been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.

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