• Kyodo

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An 18-year-old boy was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for robbing and killing a taxi driver in Mitsu, Hyogo Prefecture, in December 2000.

The Himeji Branch of the Kobe District Court found that the teen stabbed 49-year-old Fumio Sanmi in the neck with a knife on the evening of Dec. 27, 2000, and made off with about 18,500 yen. He had earlier run away from home with his girlfriend, a 16-year-old high school student at the time.

According to the ruling, the boy committed the crime because he had run out of money.

Presiding Judge Takeyoshi Ito said: “It was such a rash and self-centered act to kill the driver in order to continue his runaway. It was cruel and outrageous.”

Prosecutors earlier told the court the boy would have faced life imprisonment if he had been an adult at the time of the crime, and demanded a 15-year prison term.

The girl has already been sent to a juvenile reform school.

Their identities have been withheld because they are minors.

Following a spate of heinous crimes by youths in recent years, the Juvenile Law of 1949 was revised in November 2000 to make juveniles criminally responsible from the age of 14 — two years younger than under the previous law.

The revised law also in principle requires a family court to send to prosecutors all youths aged 16 or older who are suspected of murder, with the expectation that prosecutors would indict them.

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