Takahiro Shiriashi, a 30-year-old Japanese citizen known as the “Twitter killer” and convicted of killing nine people, was sentenced today (Tuesday) to death. Judge Naokuni Yano, who read out the sentence, said Shiraishi’s crimes were “cruel and cunning”, declaring that he was “fully responsible” for his actions. He said none of the nine victims “agreed to be murdered”, not even with tacit consent. “The lives of nine young people have been taken from them. Their dignity has been trampled on,” he added.
Shirayishi was arrested by Japanese police in 2017, during an investigation into the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman who declared on Twitter her desire to end her life. After she was declared missing, her brother gained access to her Twitter account and noticed suspicious correspondence. He gave the details to the police, and on October 31, 2017, police officers arrived at Shirashi’s home. Police reportedly asked him if he had noticed the missing woman, and he pointed to one of the coolers and said she was “there.” Police found nine dismembered bodies and 240 bones hidden in toolboxes and coolers under cat litter.
Only two months ago he admitted to it. His lawyers then sought to ease the charge of “consensual murder,” claiming his victims had expressed suicidal thoughts and even asked him to help them take their lives, but he went against the line of defense – admitting he murdered his victims without their consent.
According to the Japan Times, Shiraishi’s profile picture on Twitter included a manga illustration of a man with scars on his neck and wrist wrapped around his neck. In the profile biography (the short text that appears below the photo) Shirayishi described his “expertise” in hanging. “I want to help people who are in pain. Please send me a private message at any time,” it read. In another post he wrote: “Social abuse is everywhere, at school and at work. There are too many people in society who suffer after failing in their attempts to end their lives, but their cases are not reported in the news. I want to help those people.” Following the affair, Twitter changed its community rules – which prohibit users from encouraging or promoting self-harm and suicide.
Japan is the country with the highest suicide rate among the G7 countries, with more than 20,000 people ending their lives every year. The number of cases has been declining since 2003, but remains high among students and young adults. In some cases, groups banded together on dedicated websites and took their lives together; The issue made headlines in the country in 2005, when 91 people committed suicide as a group along with other people online. Since it was unveiled, the “Twitter Killer” affair has sparked a wide-ranging public debate in Japan, with more than 400 people watching the hearing today, even though there is only 16 seats in the hall.
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