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The Supreme Court is expected early next year to rule on the appeal of a 42-year-old man sentenced to hang for murdering four girls in Tokyo and Saitama prefectures in 1988 and 1989.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Tsutomu Miyazaki to hang for abducting and killing the girls, aged between 4 and 7, and mutilating two of the corpses. The Tokyo High Court upheld the sentence.

The top court has said it will hear the case on Nov. 22.

Miyazaki’s mental competence is expected to be the main issue during the session, which will be the last since he was first arrested 16 years ago this month in another abduction attempt involving a 6-year-old girl he photographed nude.

In all four murders, which occurred in less than a year, he took the girls into his car and strangled them. In one case he dismembered the body; in another he incinerated the corpse and crushed the bones.

He sent a letter about his crimes to the media and to the family of one of the victims under the pseudonym Yuko Imada, and also sent the remains of one victim to her family.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Miyazaki to death in April 1997. His appeal was rejected by the Tokyo High Court in June 2001.

Miyazaki, who was helping out at a print factory his father was running at the time of the crimes, told the district court in March 1990 that he committed the crimes in “a lasting dream,” and that “a rat person” appeared when he committed them. He also said he burned and ate the wrists of a girl.

The remarks have made Miyazaki’s mental competence the central focus of the case since the district court trial.

Two psychiatric exams have been conducted on Miyazaki. The first concluded he had a personality disorder, not a mental disorder, and that he could be held liable for his crimes. But the second exam determined he suffered from mental disorders, mainly a split personality and schizophrenia, which partially absolved him of criminal responsibility. Both results were submitted to the district court, which adopted the first exam.

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