The Tokyo High Court on Thursday upheld the death penalty for Tsutomu Miyazaki, 38, for the abduction and murder of four girls in a 1988-1989 serial killing spree that shocked the nation.

The decision supports a 1997 ruling by the Tokyo District Court that found Miyazaki, a former print shop worker, guilty of slaying the four girls, between 4 and 7 years old, and mutilating their bodies in Tokyo and Saitama prefectures.

His lawyers said they plan to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, citing the high court’s failure to accept their demands for additional psychiatric tests on their client.

The main focus of Miyazaki’s trial, which started at the district court in March 1990, has been whether he was able to tell right from wrong at the time of the crimes.

Three teams of court-appointed psychiatrists came up with three different conclusions during Miyazaki’s district court trial. While one team determined he has a personality disorder but can be held liable for his crimes, two others said the accused had a feeble mind at the time of the crimes.

Both the district and high courts adopted the first report.

Judge Yoshimasa Kawabe of the high court said the murders were premeditated and stemmed from Miyazaki’s sexual fantasies.

“The defendant killed and humiliated little girls who had no way to resist his sexual fantasies, disregarding the dignity of the victims and their families,” the judge said. “Considering the cruelty of his crimes, their social impact, and the sentiments of the victims’ kin, capital punishment is unavoidable.”

Appearing before the court in a navy blue suit and white shirt, Miyazaki showed almost no reaction when his death sentence was upheld.

The Criminal Code says a person of “unsound mind” should not be subject to punishment, while a “feeble-minded” person should be given a reduced sentence.

Defense lawyers had appealed to the high court, claiming Miyazaki should not be held liable for the killings or at least deserve a reduced sentence, calling him a schizophrenic and of either of “unsound mind” or “feeble-minded” at the time of the murders.

Miyazaki kidnapped a 4-year-old girl in Saitama Prefecture and strangled her in a forest in western Tokyo in August 1988. Five months later, he burned the body and left the ashes in a cardboard box in front of the victim’s home.

In October the same year, he abducted a 7-year-old girl in Saitama and killed her in the same manner. Two months later, he kidnapped a 4-year-old Saitama girl and strangled her in his car.

In June 1989, he abducted a 5-year-old girl in Tokyo and also strangled her in his car. He later mutilated her body and abandoned the remains in wooded areas of Tokyo and Saitama, according to the district court, where Miyazaki testified that he ate her wrists.

Of the three psychiatric teams’ reports on Miyazaki’s mental state, the first one, which was adopted by the district and high courts “as the most credible,” concluded that he was suffering from a personality disorder but was capable of being held responsible for his behavior.

Another said Miyazaki suffered from multiple-personality syndrome, while a third concluded he is schizophrenic. Both of the latter teams judged him to be “feeble-minded” at the time of crimes.

In the opening lower court trial session, Miyazaki admitted killing the four girls, but said he committed the crimes “as if in his permanent dream” and claimed he lost his mind after “rat people” appeared in his vision prior to the killings.

He claimed again before the high court that he saw rat people and that “the other him” killed the girls. He also said he is a hero and wants to be more famous, while describing the trial as his stage.

The high court dismissed such arguments as ruses by the accused to fool the court into believing he had no intent to kill and to possibly evade criminal responsibility.

After the high court ruling, Miyazaki’s lawyers said that had the court approved their request for additional psychiatric tests on the accused, the judges would have had better understanding of the crimes.

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