A 26-year-old former newspaper delivery man was sentenced to death Friday for stabbing and clubbing two people to death and injuring six others in 1999 on a street in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district.
The Tokyo District Court found Hiroshi Zota, a native of Okayama Prefecture, guilty of murder and attempted murder for his attack on passersby in broad daylight in front of the Tokyu Hands store in Ikebukuro.
Kazuko Sumiyoshi, 66, and Mami Takahashi, 29, died of stab wounds. Sumiyoshi’s 73-year-old husband, Tadashi, and five other people suffered wounds in the Sept. 8, 1999, attack.
Judge Ichitaro Ono ruled that Zota, of no fixed address, was mentally competent, dismissing his lawyers’ argument that he was suffering from schizophrenia.
The court conducted a psychiatric examination that found Zota mentally competent, despite signs of a personality disorder.
“At the time of his crime, the accused had not lost the ability to control his actions . . . because he had prepared his weapons in line with his purpose of committing indiscriminate murder,” the judge said.
Zota showed no emotion when the judge passed the death sentence, only answering “Yes” when the judge asked him if he understood the ruling. Zota’s lawyers said they would appeal.
According to the court, Zota, armed with a kitchen knife and hammer, attacked his victims on a bustling street near JR Ikebukuro Station shortly before noon.
Zota was subdued by two passersby and later arrested by police.
“The accused had a distorted belief that he could kill anybody as a means of demonstrating his frustration with life to the public, which is by no means excusable as a human,” the judge said.
He had pleaded guilty in court.
He told police he had decided to carry out the attack a week previously, shortly after losing his job, investigative sources said.
Zota’s parents disappeared, leaving behind huge debts, when he was a high school student in Okayama Prefecture, according to his relatives and acquaintances.
Even taking this background into account, the “cruel motives for the crime leave no room for leniency,” the judge said in the ruling.
During the trial, Takahashi’s husband, Katsutoshi, 36, said, “I want to kill him with my own hands.” Family members of other attack victims made similar comments and had demanded the death sentence for Zota.
“The court has finally given what I wanted,” Takahashi told reporters after the ruling.
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