• Kyodo

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Authorities have determined that a 19-year-old Kobe youth who made headlines in 1997 for chopping the head off an 11-year-old boy and placing it atop a school gate needs to have his detention extended, sources said Wednesday.

The 19-year-old, who also killed another child and wounded three others, is currently being held at a juvenile correctional facility.

Correctional officers will soon submit a request for an extension to the Kobe Family Court, which will hold hearings with the teen and juvenile training school officials to determine whether the request should be granted, the sources said.

The youth was arrested in May 1997 on suspicion of murdering an 11-year-old boy earlier that month and placing the victim’s head on top of a school gate, as well as assaulting four elementary school girls with a hammer in February and March the same year. One of the girls died of her wounds.

The youth, who was 14 when the crimes were committed, turns 20 this summer. However, the middle juvenile training school where he is currently being held accepts, in principle, 16-year-olds up through 19-year-olds, and a court decision is needed for those who turn 20 to remain in custody.

In Japan, adulthood legally begins at 20.

The Kobe Family Court ruled that the youth should be sent to a juvenile training school, and he was handed over in October 1997 to the Kanto Medical Juvenile Training School, where he was placed under a 5 1/2-year program that included psychological treatment and counseling.

Last year, he was transferred to the middle juvenile training school after it was determined that he was responding well to the treatment and that there was a need for him to gain skills that would help him return to society.

He has since been receiving vocational training, and roughly four years and seven months have passed since he was first placed in correctional facilities. The 5 1/2-year program ends next April.

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