• Kyodo

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The Nagasaki Family Court decided Wednesday to conduct psychiatric tests on a 12-year-old boy suspected of murdering a 4-year-old boy.

At the first hearing in the case, presiding Judge Hiroko Ito accepted a request for the tests from the boy’s lawyers, who on Tuesday stressed the need to determine why the crime took place.

Following the decision, the hearings, originally scheduled to run through Aug. 8, will be suspended. How the case proceeds will be decided on the basis of the test results and a court investigation.

According to judicial authorities, it is rare for a youth under 14 — the youngest age at which one can be criminally prosecuted — to undergo psychiatric tests.

While the family court appointed an expert to perform the tests, no decision has been made on how long the boy will be detained for examination.

Under the Penal Code, people under 14 cannot be held criminally responsible for their actions.

The most likely eventuality is that the student will ultimately be transferred to a child rehabilitation support facility.

He is suspected of abducting Shun Tanemoto on July 1 and pushing him off the roof of an eight-story parking garage. He allegedly stripped the victim naked and injured him with scissors before killing him.

The boy’s lawyers earlier quoted him as saying that he “did not know what he was doing” when he killed the victim.

He has been held at a juvenile center in Nagasaki after being taken into police custody July 9.

The closed hearing at the juvenile center was attended by Ito and two others judges from the family court, as well as the boy’s lawyers. The boy’s parents did not participate in the session.

During the session, Judge Ito urged the boy to give his own account of what happened. The boy’s lawyers declined to comment on whether he admitted to the charges, saying, “The hearing is not open to the public.”

Nagasaki police earlier said the boy confessed to the kidnapping and murder of Tanemoto.