Japanese man says he will admit guilt in court over 2016 killings of 19 disabled people: Media

TOKYO (REUTERS) - A Japanese man accused of killing 19 disabled people at a care home south of Tokyo in 2016 said he will admit to the killings at his trial due to begin in January, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported.

Satoshi Uematsu, 29, is in detention awaiting trial for the July 2016 stabbings in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. The trial is set to begin on Jan 8 and a verdict is expected on March 16.

During 26 interviews with the newspaper, beginning in March 2017, Uematsu said he would not dispute the accusations against him and would "admit" all in court.

Uematsu's lawyer could not be reached immediately for comment. Prosecutors in Japan win 99 per cent of their criminal cases when they first go to trial, according to data from the Supreme Court in Japan.

Uematsu worked at the care facility and while he said he was "sorry to the bereaved families", he repeatedly said that the deaths "couldn't be helped", Mainichi reported.

"There was no reason for them to live," Uematsu said in an interview in February 2018, describing the residents at the care home as "people with failed minds". "I had to do it for the sake of society," he said, according to the newspaper report.

He spoke about his potential court sentence, suggesting at one point he would like to avoid execution and at another time that he would prefer the death penalty.

"If I'm not capable of taking responsibility for myself, then I'd prefer the death penalty. I don't want the subject of my ability to take responsibility brought up at the trial," he was quoted as saying.

In April this year, Uematsu told Mainichi: "I didn't do anything that would warrant the death penalty." And in July, he said a heavy sentence would be "unavoidable", but "execution would be too much. I have no intention of being sentenced to die."

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