Japan ‘Twitter killer’ pleads responsible to murders

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Takahiro Shiraishi after his arrest in 2017

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

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

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

But his lawyers argue that his charges should be reduced because his victims appear to have consented to be killed.

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

The court case met with great interest. More than 600 people queued for 13 public gallery seats to watch the first hearing on Wednesday, the public broadcaster NHK reported.

What happened?

Prosecutors told the court that the defendant opened a Twitter account in March 2017 “to contact women who are contemplating suicide and whom he saw as easy targets,” NHK said. His victims were 15 to 26 years old.

He is said to have murdered, dismembered and stored her body parts in his apartment in the Japanese city of Zama near Tokyo.

The serial killings shocked Japan when exposed and sparked renewed debate over websites discussing suicide. At the time, the government said it could introduce new regulations.

It also led to a change in Twitter’s rules that users shouldn’t “encourage or encourage suicide or self-harm.” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said at the time the case was “extremely” sad.

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