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OSAKA — Mamoru Takuma, who is under arrest for the June 8 massacre of eight children at an Osaka elementary school, was forcibly hospitalized instead of indicted for a March 1999 assault, sources said Tuesday.

This was done in order to confine Takuma, 37, and keep him under observation for a longer period of time, the sources said.

Takuma faced criminal charges in March 1999 for allegedly injuring teachers at an elementary school in Hyogo Prefecture where he worked by lacing their tea with tranquilizers.

Police had originally sought to charge Takuma with assault because they believed he was mentally competent.

After learning that Takuma had a history of erratic behavior, however, they had him confined to a hospital to ensure he remained under observation and was unable to commit another crime, the sources said.

Had he been indicted, he would only have subsequently been fined, they added.

After spending 39 days in the hospital, Takuma was let go.

When facing arrest for an assault last February, Takuma told police that he suffered from a mental disorder and sought to avoid indictment.

Osaka Prefectural Police investigators believe Takuma is again seeking to avoid being held criminally liable for the massacre at Osaka Kyoiku University Ikeda Elementary School by pretending to be mentally disturbed, the sources said.

In addition to the eight slain, 15 people were injured in the attack.

Police said earlier that Takuma had already admitted he had lied about taking an overdose of tranquilizers before running amok at the school. “I feigned being mentally ill. I thought I could escape responsibility if drugs were involved,” Takuma reportedly said during a June 15 interrogation.

Police said Takuma’s claim, after he was subdued at the school, that he had stabbed and killed around 100 people in front of the railway station in Ikeda was also a calculated attempt to appear deranged.

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