• Kyodo


A man filed an appeal Wednesday after he was handed a life sentence earlier this month for the 2018 murder of a 7-year-old girl in the city of Niigata, his lawyer said.

The defense team for Haruka Kobayashi, 25, had requested a sentence with a maximum 10 years in prison during a trial at the Niigata District Court, claiming that he had no intention of killing or molesting the girl, while suggesting he may have been mentally ill at the time.

According to the ruling, Kobayashi intentionally hit the second-grader with his car while she was on her way home from school on May 7 last year. He molested her in his car and strangled her to death before abandoning her body on a railway track so it would appear that she had been hit and killed by a train.

The ruling, issued on Dec. 4, noted that Kobayashi did not plan to kill the girl initially, but was “aware that (strangling her) carried a high risk of killing her.”

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, saying the accused showed no care for the girl’s life.

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