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2012年12月15日 (土)

尼崎連続変死 角田被告自殺は警察の失態だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 15, 2012)
Major error by police enabled Sumida's suicide
尼崎連続変死 角田被告自殺は警察の失態だ(12月14日付・読売社説)

With the death of Miyoko Sumida, it has become far more difficult to determine the truth behind an extremely abnormal case in the history of crime in this country. She was the central figure in the case. This was a gross blunder by the police.
 犯罪史上、極めて異様な事件の真相解明が難しくなった。事件の中心人物を死亡させたのは、警察の大失態である。

Sumida, who was rearrested on suspicion of murder and other charges related to bodies found in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, and elsewhere, died in a detention cell in the Hyogo Prefectural Police Headquarters. The police are treating her death as a suicide.
 兵庫県尼崎市の連続変死事件で、殺人容疑などで再逮捕されていた角田(すみだ)美代子被告が兵庫県警本部内の留置場で死亡した。県警は自殺とみている。

Sumida was suspected to have been the leader of a group that infiltrated the homes of families who had become relatives of Sumida through marriage and adoption. She then allegedly forced these families to obey her orders and extorted money from them. In a series of similar incidents, five families were split apart and six bodies have been found so far.
 被告は、婚姻や養子縁組を通して姻戚関係となった家庭に乗り込み、服従させて金を巻き上げたとされる。一連の事件で5家族が一家離散に追い込まれ、計6人の遺体が見つかった。

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Warning signs of suicide

As what Sumida might have said was expected to reveal important clues in unraveling what happened in the so-called Amagasaki case, her death will have an immeasurable negative effect on the investigation. It is only natural for one of victims of the crimes to angrily demand, "What in the world were the police doing?"
 角田被告の供述が、事件の全容を解明するカギだった。死亡による捜査への影響は計り知れない。被害者の1人が「警察は一体、何をしていたのか」と憤ったのも当然である。

Two months ago, Sumida reportedly "consulted" a police officer in charge of her detention about the possibility of suicide, saying such things as: "I don't want to live. How can I die?" The day before her death, she reportedly said some things that could have been seen as a last will to a lawyer who came to interview her.
 角田被告は2か月前、留置担当の警察官に「生きていたくない。どうしたら死ねるのか」と“相談”していた。死亡前日には、接見に訪れた弁護士に遺言めいた言葉も漏らしていたという。

Due to these circumstances, the prefectural police designated her as a "person requiring special attention," which means her behavior had to be checked closely and recorded. According to the National Police Agency's notification, such people should, in principle, be monitored visually around the clock in a one-person cell.
 このため、県警は動静を細かく確認し、記録する「特別要注意者」に指定していた。警察庁の通知では、単独居室で24時間体制の対面監視を原則としている。

However, the prefectural police violated these stipulations by placing Sumida in a three-person cell. Although the number of times the cell was inspected per hour was increased, some time slots received insufficient monitoring. There appears to be no doubt that there were lapses by the prefectural police.
 ところが、これに反して、県警は、角田被告を3人部屋に入れていた。巡回数は通常より増やしていたものの、監視の目が行き届かない時間帯もあった。明らかに県警の手抜かりと言える。

Sumida was found dead with a long-sleeved T-shirt wound around her neck. A police officer on checking duty noticed that Sumida appeared not to be breathing and called her superior. It took 11 minutes to unlock the cell from the time the first officer noticed Sumida's abnormal condition.
 被告は長袖Tシャツを首に巻いて死亡していた。巡回中の警察官が、寝息を立てていないことに気付き、他の警察官を呼んで解錠するまでに11分を要した。

The delay was to prevent the two other inmates from escaping, according to the police, but the speed of the response is still questionable.
 同部屋の2人の脱走などを防ぐためだったというが、この対応にも疑問が残る。

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Thorough verification needed

Initially the prefectural police insisted it had made no mistakes. However, it later admitted some inappropriate action had been taken. "We can't say there were no mistakes," one official said.
 県警は当初、「落ち度はなかった」と強弁したが、後に「ミスがなかったとは言えない」と不手際を認めた。

Why were the police unable to prevent Sumida from committing suicide? The prefectural police's monitoring system needs to be thoroughly reexamined.
なぜ、自殺を防げなかったのか、徹底検証が必要だ。

According to the NPA, several suicides occur in police detention cells each year. Belts and neckties, which can be used for suicides, are not allowed to be brought into detention cells, but cases of hanging using other pieces of clothing are said to be harder to prevent.
 警察庁によると、警察の留置場での自殺は毎年、数件起きている。自殺に使用される恐れがあるベルトやネクタイは、留置場内に持ち込めないことになっている。しかし、衣類を使って首をつる事例が後を絶たないという。

In 2007 a defendant suspected of murdering a housewife in Sakura, Tochigi Prefecture, hanged himself in a visiting room for people held in detention at a police station.
 2007年には、栃木県さくら市で主婦が殺害された事件の被告が、留置人面会室で首つり自殺するというケースまであった。

We encourage all the nation's police departments to make a concerted effort to prevent similar cases from occurring, and to learn from the mistakes of the Hyogo police. For starters, the monitoring system at police detention cells needs to be thoroughly reexamined.
 全国の警察は、兵庫県警の失態を教訓に、再発防止に全力を挙げてもらいたい。まずは、留置場の監視体制について、総点検することが必要だ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 14, 2012)
(2012年12月14日01時31分  読売新聞)

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