National / Crime & Legal

Shiga ex-cop pleads guilty to fatally shooting senior officer but asks for leniency over mental stress

Kyodo

A 20-year-old former policeman pleaded guilty Wednesday to fatally shooting his commanding officer at a police box in Shiga Prefecture in April, but sought leniency, with his lawyers citing his diminished capacity due to mental stress.

The defendant, whose name has been withheld because he was a minor at the time of the shooting, aged 19, admitted to killing police Sgt. Akira Imoto, 41, at the first hearing of his trial at the Otsu District Court. Imoto was posthumously promoted to police inspector.

The accused’s lawyers argued he was struggling with adjustment disorder due to psychological stress and his “capacity to judge between right and wrong and to control his behavior had been reduced prior to firing the handgun.”

The accused faces charges of murder and violating the swords and firearms control law as a result of shooting Imoto in the back and head in the city of Hikone on April 11 last year.

Imoto was in charge of training the accused, who graduated from police school in January last year and was posted to the police box about two weeks before the incident.

Prosecutors said the former policeman had become angry and frustrated with his work, which piled up as Imoto repeatedly directed him to correct documents the accused had written.

“He was instructed (by Imoto) again on the day of the crime and his anger and frustration exploded,” a prosecutor said.

Countering the defense lawyers’ argument of diminished capacity, prosecutors said the former policeman should be held criminally responsible as he has clear memories of the crime and no history of mental illness.

The defense counsel said the former policeman came to regard himself as “useless” as he was repeatedly directed by Imoto to make corrections and thought he would feel better if his boss died. He was under stress and lacked sleep at the time of the crime, they added.

After his arrest, the former policeman complained about Imoto during the investigation, but also said the boss “was rigid, but properly guided me,” investigative sources said.

Shiga police said they found no indication of problems in the behavior of either officer prior to the shooting.

The National Police Agency has said the incident is believed to be the nation’s first murder case involving a teenage police officer.

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