NAGOYA – A man on trial for stabbing a baby to death at a supermarket in Anjo, Aichi Prefecture, in February assaulted a woman in court Thursday just as she testified on how she was wounded during the attack five months ago.
The woman, in her 20s, who took the stand as a prosecution witness at the Nagoya District Court, sustained a forehead wound when Katsunao Ujiie, 34, sprang and hit her from behind.
She was taken to a hospital in an ambulance and her injury will require one week of treatment.
Ujiie later told the judge that he hit her “in a fit of rage after hearing her voice.” Officials said it was the first time in the history of the Nagoya court that a defendant assaulted a witness in court.
Prison officials accompanying him had removed his handcuffs and a restraining belt.
Ujiie stands accused of stabbing to death 11-month-old Shoma Aoyama and wounding others at a supermarket in Anjo on Feb. 4.
The woman was at the scene and suffered facial wounds when Ujiie kicked her.
Thursday’s trial session started at 2 p.m.
When a prosecutor asked the woman whether it was the accused who had assaulted her on Feb. 4, she acknowledged that Ujiie was the attacker, saying, “That’s correct.”
Ujiie then suddenly sprang from his seat and hit her, moving faster than the three prison officials who tried to stop him.
He was immediately subdued and taken out of the courtroom.
Presiding Judge Shinichiro Ito reopened the trial after an 80-minute recess. A shield was placed in front of Ujiie’s seat and he was put back in his restraining belt.
Masaru Moriwaki, chief of the Nagoya District Court, released a statement saying the assault was “extremely regrettable” and admitting there was a security lapse.
The Nagoya Detention House, where Ujiie is being held, apologized for the attack and said it will consider increasing the number of guards with him in court.
Ujiie, who was arrested right after the stabbing in February, has reportedly confessed that he killed the baby. His lawyers have argued that Ujiie should be judged innocent because he is a schizophrenic and was mentally incompetent at the time of the crime.
One of the lawyers, Shigehiro Kanaoka, said Ujiie’s behavior Thursday was unpredictable because of his schizophrenia. “The accused does not remember how he hit” the woman, the lawyer said.
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