A man dubbed Japan’s “Twitter killer” has been sentenced to death for murdering and dismembering nine people he contacted through the social media platform.
Takahiro Shiraishi was arrested in 2017 after body parts were found in his flat in the city of Zama, near Tokyo.
He admitted strangling and dismembering his victims, eight of whom were women, over the course of three months. The youngest was 15 and the oldest 26.
The 30-year-old is also alleged to have stolen cash from them and sexually assaulted all his female victims.
Shiraishi, who set up his Twitter profile in March 2017, targeted his victims as they had expressed suicidal intentions on the platform.
He used a handle which translates as “hangman”, The Japan Times reported, and sent them messages promising to help them die.
His Twitter profile reportedly included the words: “I want to help people who are really in pain. Please DM me anytime.”
Authorities became involved when one of the female victims, a 23-year-old, was reported missing. They searched Shiraishi’s flat on Halloween that year and found parts of the nine bodies stuffed in coolers.
According to Japanese media, the only male victim, aged 20, was killed after confronting Shiraishi about the whereabouts of his girlfriend.
Shiraishi’s lawyers argued that his charges should be changed to the lesser offence of homicide with consent. They said his victims apparently gave consent to be killed, according to the messages that were sent.
However, Judge Naokuni Yano ruled this was not the case.
According to NHK, he told the court: “None of the nine victims consented to be killed, including by silent consent.
“It is extremely grave that the lives of nine young people were taken away. The dignity of the victims was trampled upon.”
He said Shiraishi had committed “extremely vicious crimes” but was mentally fit to be held responsible based on five months of psychiatric testing before his indictment.
Shiraishi, who spent five months undergoing psychiatric tests before being indicted in 2018, was found guilty by the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court and sentenced to death for his crimes.