Japan ‘Twitter killer’ pleads guilty to murders

Japan ‘Twitter killer’ pleads guilty to murders

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Takahiro ShiraishiImage copyright
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Image caption

Takahiro Shiraishi after his arrest in 2017

A Japanese man has pleaded guilty to murdering nine people after contacting them on Twitter, in a high-profile case that has shocked the country.

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

He told a court in Tokyo on Wednesday that the allegations against him “are all correct”.

But his lawyers argue that his charges should be reduced because his victims apparently gave consent to be killed.

If convicted of murder, Mr Shiraishi faces the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Japan.

The court case has attracted wide interest, with more than 600 people lining up for 13 public gallery seats to watch the first hearing on Wednesday, reported public broadcaster NHK.

What happened?

The prosecution told the court the accused opened a Twitter account in March 2017 “to contact women contemplating suicide, whom he saw as easy targets”, NHK said. His victims were aged 15 to 26.

He allegedly murdered, dismembered and stored their body parts in his flat in the Japanese city of Zama, near Tokyo.

The serial killings shocked Japan when they were exposed and triggered a renewed debate about websites on which suicide is discussed. At the time the government indicated it may introduce new regulations.

It also prompted a change in Twitter’s rules to state that users should not “promote or encourage suicide or self-harm”. Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey said at the time the case was “extremely” sad.

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