Japan ‘Twitter killer’ Takahiro Shiraishi sentenced to death

(BBC) – A man who murdered nine people after contacting them on Twitter has been sentenced to death, in a high-profile case that has shocked Japan.

Takahiro Shiraishi, dubbed the “Twitter killer”, was arrested in 2017 after body parts were found in his flat.

The 30-year-old had admitted to murdering and dismembering his victims – almost all of whom were young women he met on the social media platform.

The serial killings triggered debate over how suicide is discussed online.

More than 400 people turned up to watch the verdict on Tuesday, despite the court only having 16 seats available for the public, reported local media.

Public support for the death penalty remains high in Japan, one of the few developed nations to retain capital punishment.

How did he find his victims?

Shiraishi used Twitter to lure suicidal women to his home, saying he could help them die and, in some cases, claimed he would kill himself alongside them.

He strangled and dismembered eight women and one man aged 15 to 26 between August and October 2017, said Japan’s Kyodo news agency, citing the indictment.

The serial killings first came to light on Halloween that year when police found dismembered body parts in Shiraishi’s flat in the Japanese city of Zama, near Tokyo, while they were searching for a missing 23-year-old woman, who turned out to be one of the victims.

After she had gone missing, her brother accessed her Twitter account and alerted police to a suspicious handle, leading them to Shiraishi’s residence on the morning of 31 October in 2017.

Japanese media called it the “house of horrors” after investigators discovered nine heads along with a large number of arm and leg bones stashed in coolers and tool boxes.

What happened at the trial?

While prosecutors sought the death penalty for Shiraishi, his lawyers argued he was guilty of the lesser charge of “murder with consent”, claiming his victims had given their permission to be killed. (READ MORE)

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