Japan's 'Twitter killer' drops death sentence appeal

Japan's 'Twitter killer' drops death sentence appeal

Shiraishi lured people who posted online comments about suicidal thoughts to his home, and killed them

This crime reignited the debate about suicide prevention in Japan. Credit: Getty Images/Representative Image

 A Japanese man dubbed the "Twitter killer" has withdrawn an appeal of his guilty verdict and death sentence over the murder of nine people, a court official said Wednesday.

Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, "submitted the motion" on Monday to drop the appeal filed by his lawyers, a court spokesman told AFP.

Shiraishi lured people who posted online comments about suicidal thoughts to his home, where he killed and butchered his young victims. All but one of those murdered were women, and they ranged in age from 15 to 26.

During his trial, he did not contest the charges against him although his lawyer attempted to reduce his sentence, arguing the suicidal thoughts expressed by the victims indicated their willingness to die.

Shiraishi was detained three years ago as police investigated the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman who reportedly tweeted about wanting to kill herself.

Her brother gained access to her Twitter account and eventually led police to Shiraishi's residence, where investigators found nine dismembered bodies stored in coolers and toolboxes that had been sprinkled with cat litter in a bid to hide the evidence.

Shiraishi told the court during his trial he had no plan to appeal any ruling against him, and he told a local newspaper the verdict had been "obvious".

Despite the death sentence, he told the Mainichi Shimbun he wanted to now "meet an ordinary girl" and get married while in jail.

Shiraishi's crime reignited the debate about suicide prevention in Japan, which has the highest suicide rate among the Group of Seven leading democracies.

Efforts to reduce suicides had led to a decline in recent years, but numbers have been rising again in the wake of the pandemic.

Japan is one of the few developed nations to retain the death penalty, with more than 100 inmates on death row, and support for it remains high.