• Kyodo

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A diagnosed schizophrenic was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for slashing two boys with a knife at an elementary school.

Nobuyuki Shirai, 47, was convicted by the Kyoto District court of attempted murder for inflicting minor head wounds on the two first-grade students in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, in December 2003. Prosecutors had sought a 10-year prison term.

During the trial, psychiatric tests determined Shirai suffered serious schizophrenia, and the focus of the case was whether he could be held criminally liable.

In handing down its ruling, the court said Shirai could be held accountable, pointing out that immediately after the attack he was able to give his own name and to lie.

“The physical and emotional pain of the victims, who were just 7 years old and had done nothing blameworthy, is grave,” presiding Judge Makoto Himuro said. “The crime also took place at an educational institution where hearts and minds are supposed to be nurtured.”

However, the court also ruled that Shirai was in a debilitated mental state, noting he moved with great slowness during the attack, and his ability to control his actions based on the knowledge of right and wrong was weakened.

Shirai’s lawyer had asked for an acquittal because of his mental state. Prosecutors, however, said he could be held fully responsible for his actions, given that he remembered how he had committed the crime and that he had planned it in advance.

Akio Takada, deputy chief prosecutor of the Kyoto District Public Prosecutor’s Office, said he was dissatisfied that the court recognized diminished mental capacity in the case and sharply reduced Shirai’s sentence.

Takada said he would discuss with the Kyoto High Public Prosecutor’s Office whether to appeal the sentence and seek harsher punishment.

Shirai entered Uji Elementary School at around 12:35 p.m. Dec. 18, 2003. He attacked the two boys in a classroom with a knife, inflicting slight head wounds.

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