• Kyodo

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Prosecutors demanded a 15-year prison term Wednesday for an 18-year-old male accused of murdering a taxi driver in December 2000.

According to prosecutors, the youth, who was 16 at the time, and his girlfriend stabbed Fumio Sanmi, 49, in the neck in Mitsu, Hyogo Prefecture, on the night of Dec. 27, 2000. The youths’ names have not been released because they are minors.

After the slaying, they allegedly made off with the victim’s earnings of roughly 18,500 yen.

The girl, now 17, has been sent to a juvenile correctional facility.

The slaying made headlines as it came on the heels of revisions to the Juvenile Law paving the way for minors who commit serious crimes to be tried as adults.

Prosecutors said the pair, who had run away from home, committed the crime out of a desire to obtain money for food and lodging.

“The crime was self-centered and short-sighted, and there can be no sympathy,” the prosecutors said, adding that Sanmi was murdered in a coldblooded and cruel manner.

If the defendant had been an adult, his actions would deserve an indefinite prison sentence, they said.

Lawyers for the youth maintained during the trial before the Himeji branch of the district court that he should not be held criminally liable because he was psychologically unstable due to constant abuse from his parents. They added that he was also under the effects of inhaling paint thinner at the time and could not control his actions.

Instead of a prison term, his lawyers urged the court to send the youth to a correctional facility.

They said he is now repentant and hopes to compensate Sanmi’s family once he returns to society.

The court is scheduled to hand down a ruling Sept. 18.

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