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2009年3月19日 (木)

闇サイト殺人 自首が死刑と無期を分けた

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 19, 2009)

Surrender was difference between life and death

闇サイト殺人 自首が死刑と無期を分けた(319日付・読売社説)

Where is the line drawn between a death sentence and one of life in prison? One answer to this question was provided by Wednesday's Nagoya District Court ruling that sentenced two men to death and one to life in prison for murdering a 31-year-old woman in 2007. The three defendants met via an underground Web site.



The three abducted a woman off the street and forced her into a car, robbed her of 62,000 yen in cash and threatened her with a knife in an attempt to get the personal identification number of her cash card. Despite begging the three men for her life, they hit her on the head with a hammer and strangled her.


The court ruling acknowledged these facts. The defendants' acts were extremely cruel.


The Nagoya incident symbolizes a negative side of the information age. The Internet has made it easy for unacquainted people to come together to commit crimes in pursuit of easy money. They bluff each other, craft crime plots and in the end commit atrocious crimes.



Standard set

In 1983, the Supreme Court listed nine factors that should be taken into account in handing down a death sentence, including motivation, the number of victims and the degree of cruelty involved in the crime.


Since then, there has been a strong tendency for courts to forgo handing down a death sentence in cases involving a single victim. It is extremely rare for more than one defendant to be sentenced to death in a case like the one that concluded Wednesday.


The ruling likely came as the court gave great weight to the cruel way the crime was committed. The ruling also is thought to be intended to discourage copycat crimes. The sentences can also be linked to recent trends favoring respect for the views of the victim's family and the tendency for prosecutors to demand tougher punishment.


In crimes committed by more than one offender, it is common for there to be a hierarchy within the group and for the main culprit to be more heavily penalized.


In the Nagoya case, no such clear hierarchy was found among the three, who first got acquainted immediately before they committed the crime. Given such a situation, the court's decision to give one of the three a life sentence while sending the other two to the gallows shows the importance the court gave to his voluntary surrender to police.



Culprit gave himself up

If he had not surrendered, it would have been difficult for police to identify the three who had little connection to each other. The court decided to give him a reduced sentence as it recognized his contribution to the arrest of the other two culprits.


A death sentence or a life sentence? It is a painful decision to make even for professional judges. The Tokyo District Court last month chose to hand down a life sentence for a man who murdered a woman living in the same condominium building as her killer in Koto Ward, Tokyo. The killer dismembered and mutilated her body and abandoned the body parts.


A defendant convicted in the serial murders of schoolchildren in Akita Prefecture was given a life sentence by a district court. A high court decision on the culprit's appeal scheduled to be given next Wednesday is now drawing public attention.


Under the lay judge system that starts in May, nonjurists will have to try people accused of serious crimes. If you were a judge, how would you make a decision? With this in mind, each and every individual in the nation needs to pay close attention to the way courts rule.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 19, 2009)

20093190136  読売新聞)


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