Japanese man to stand trial for worst mass killing in Japan since WWII: Media

Satoshi Uematsu smiling broadly inside a police vehicle on July 27, 2016.
Satoshi Uematsu smiling broadly inside a police vehicle on July 27, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - A man will stand trial over the brutal stabbing deaths of 19 people at a disability centre in Japan last year - the nation's bloodiest crime in decades, media reported on Friday (Feb 24).

Satoshi Uematsu claimed he was on a self-styled mission to rid the world of people with mental illness when he allegedly carried out the attack at the Tsukui Yamayuri-en (Tsukui Lily Garden) care centre, south of Tokyo, on July 26, 2016.

The mass killing at the facility in mountainous Sagamihara city in Kanagawa prefecture shocked Japan and sparked a review of the country's mental health system.

The Yokohama District Public Prosecutors Office indicted Uematsu for killing 19 residents and attempting to kill or injure 24 others at the centre, according to public broadcaster NHK and other media.

 
 
 

Uematsu, who once worked at the facility, had previously been under psychiatric care and had made public threats against the centre.

The 27-year-old experienced a "personality disorder", but psychological reviews have suggested he is fit for trial, media including Jiji Press said, citing unnamed investigators.

Uematsu allegedly broke into the centre, tied up caregivers and roamed the facility, stabbing sleeping residents and leaving them in pools of blood, the authorities have said.

Shortly afterwards, Uematsu turned himself in to local police and confessed, investigators have said.

Uematsu was forcibly hospitalised in February 2016 after telling colleagues at the care centre that he intended to kill disabled people.

He had previously delivered a letter to the speaker of the Lower House of Japan's Parliament in which he outlined a plan for night-time attacks against Tsukui Yamayuri-en and another facility.

He presented a vision of a society in which the seriously handicapped could be euthanised with the approval of family members.

Before Uematsu carried out his murderous vision, the deadliest attack committed on Japanese soil in recent decades occurred in 1995, when members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult released the sarin nerve agent in the Tokyo subway, killing 12 people and injuring thousands of others.