Trial ends in fatal driving rampage at factory


The trial of a former Mazda Motor Corp. worker who went on a deadly driving rampage at the carmaker’s plant complex in 2010 ended Friday, with prosecutors demanding life imprisonment and the defense seeking his acquitted on grounds of temporary insanity.

Toshiaki Hikiji, 44, is charged with murdering Hiroshi Hamada, 39, and with attempting to murder 11 other male employees he struck during his crazed car attack June 22, 2010.

The incident occurred in Hiroshima Prefecture at Mazda’s adjoining auto plants in the city of Hiroshima and the town of Fuchu, two months after Hikiji had retired as a seasonal worker.

The Hiroshima District Court will hand down a ruling March 9.

During the lay judge trial, the prosecutors claimed Hikiji “committed a premeditated crime that was extremely self-righteous and self-centered.” Hikiji told the court he feels no remorse for his actions.

The prosecutors acknowledged Hikiji’s mental state may have influenced his actions, and said this is the only reason they are not seeking the death sentence.

But Hikiji’s counsel argued that his temporary state of insanity at the time of the car rampage means he should not be considered competent and thus should not be held criminally responsible for his actions.

Acts of insanity are not punishable under the Penal Code.

The prosecutors have argued that psychiatric tests show Hikiji was fully competent at the time of the incident, which they allege he planned in advance, and say he should be held criminally responsible for murdering Hamada, the Mazda employee, and trying to kill the 11 others.

Before the prosecutors delivered their closing argument, Susumu Hamada, the 62-year-old father of the late employee, demanded the court hand down the death penalty, telling the judges he has been “angered and tormented by (Hijiki’s) selfish remarks.”

Videotaped scammer jailed


The Tokyo District Court on Friday handed down a jail term to a businessman guilty of real estate fraud in a case that drew widespread attention as it was the first domestic criminal case whose entire interrogation process was videotaped by prosecutors.

The court sentenced Masaharu Tokushima, 48, a former executive officer of a real estate investment firm, to 4½ years in prison after finding him guilty of breach of trust under the Companies Act.

Last year, the special squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office videotaped all its interrogations of Tokushima — the first complete recording conducted in a criminal investigation by prosecutors or police, although the court did not enter the recordings into evidence.

Calls for more transparency in the interrogation process by law-enforcement authorities have been mounting in Japan amid a recent series of false accusation cases. Police across the country began recording the questioning of suspects in 2009 and prosecutors did likewise in 2011, both on a test basis.