The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence for Tsutomu Miyazaki, ruling that one of Japan's most notorious serial killers was mentally competent when he abducted and murdered four girls in the late 1980s.
The top court upheld the Tokyo High Court's sentence, rejected the appeal filed by Miyazaki and thus ended a series of trials that had lasted about 16 years.
The mental competence of Miyazaki, 43, was the focal point in the legal proceedings.
"The high court's ruling that acknowledged he can be held criminally responsible is correct and can be accepted," Presiding Justice Tokiyasu Fujita of the Supreme Court's Third Petty Bench said. "He had killed four girls to satisfy his sexual desire, and there is no room for an extenuation in his inhumane motive. It had a major impact on society."
Fujita said the murder spree was well planned and motivated also by the defendant's desire to collect video footage of dead bodies.
The ruling acknowledged Miyazaki abducted the girls in his car and then strangled them. He groped, videotaped and destroyed their bodies.
"The court has no choice but to uphold the lower court rulings,'' Fujita said.
The death sentence will be finalized unless the defense team files a request to rectify the ruling within 10 days.
Attention to the case grew after Miyazaki began giving incomprehensible testimony, including his claim that a "rat man'' appeared before he killed the girls, and that he ate the wrists of one of the victims.
Maiko Tagusari, a lawyer who represents Miyazaki, said Tuesday's ruling was unacceptable because it ignored evidence that her client has been suffering from chronic mental illness since the time he committed the crimes.
During the trial, defense lawyers said it was "obvious (he) is suffering from some kind of chronic mental disorder, such as schizophrenia."
But the prosecution said: "The psychiatric evaluation that showed the defendant can be held criminally responsible is based on sufficient grounds, and is, therefore, legitimate."
During the Tokyo District Court trial, two psychiatric evaluations were conducted. One group said Miyazaki had a warped personality but could tell the difference between right and wrong and should be held fully responsible.
The second group said Miyazaki was suffering from either a multiple-personality syndrome or schizophrenia, and should be held only partially responsible for his crimes.
The district court accepted the first evaluation and sentenced him to death. The high court upheld that decision.
Miyazaki was arrested in July 1989 after he was caught molesting a 6-year-old girl in Tokyo's Hachioji, about a month after he killed his fourth victim.
He sent a letter and parts of the remains of one of his victims to her family. He also claimed responsibility in the media using a female pseudonym, Yuko Imada.
Investigators found about 6,000 videotapes in his room, some filled with grisly scenes.