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Japan court sentences man to death for murder of 19 at care home

A court in Japan on Monday sentenced a man to death by hanging for the murder of 19 people at a care center for disabled people.

During the trial, Satoshi Uematsu did not deny carying out the killings and said he had "no regrets." His lawyers had entered a not guilty plea. They argued he was suffering from a "mental disorder" due to drug use.

Details of the verdict

"The grave consequence was incomparable to other incidents with 19 lives being taken," Presiding Judge Kiyoshi Aonuma of the court said in handing down the sentence.

Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for Uematsu, while the defense team argued he was mentally incompetent and should not be held criminally responsible for his actions.However, presiding judge ruled the defendant was mentally competent and that there was "no room for leniency."

The defense said the defendant's personality has drastically changed since 2015 due to his use of marijuana, which it claimed triggered his mental disorder and the attack.

In demanding capital punishment, prosecutors cited the large number of victims and Uematsu's discriminatory remarks against people with disabilities.

"The lives of 19 people were taken away. This is profoundly grave," he told the court. "We considered the accused didn't have a previous record and we made a careful consideration, but we demand the death penalty."

Before the verdict, Uematsu had said he would not appeal.

What happened in the attack?

The 30 year-old once worked at a care center for people with mental disablities southwest of Tokyo.

Uematsu admitted stabbing to death 19 disabled people and injuring 24 others at the Yamayuri-en residential buildings in July 2016. Many of the victims were killed as they slept.

He reportedly told the court the victims were "a burden to society" and killing them would be good for society

The attack was one of the deadliest in Japan since World War II.

rt/cmb (AFP, AP, Reuters, KN)

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