National / Crime & Legal

Suspect to admit in court to mass murder at Sagamihara disabled care home

Kyodo

A man accused of killing 19 residents and injuring dozens more at a care home for people with mental disabilities in Kanagawa Prefecture in 2016 said Monday he will admit to charges of murder and attempted murder at his trial, which is slated to begin in January.

Satoshi Uematsu, 29, said in an interview at a detention house that denying the charges “would be quibbling and make the trial too complex.”

He said he intends to apologize to the relatives of those killed and the others he injured at the facility in Sagamihara, near Tokyo, in the early hours of July 26, 2016.

Despite his intent to apologize, Uematsu, a former caretaker at the facility, continues to believe that “Those who have disabilities, severe enough as to prevent communication, are not people.” He also said they bring “misfortune” and are “harmful.”

He has repeatedly made discriminatory remarks against those with disabilities during media interviews.

Sources familiar with his defense team’s preparations for the trial have recently said they are planning to have him plead not guilty, arguing Uematsu was not mentally competent and so unable to bear responsibility for his acts due to the effects of marijuana.

Uematsu’s defense team will stick to that argument, according to other sources. He tested positive for the drug after his arrest.

Uematsu said he does not want to blame marijuana but is leaving his defense strategy up to his lawyers.

He added he is fine with an insanity plea “as long as it lightens my punishment.”

The trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 8 at the Yokohama District Court. A ruling is expected to be handed down on March 16.