A man who used a saw to cut off a man’s head even as he begged to be killed first, his only response being to tell him to “stay still or I can’t cut your neck properly,” has been sentenced to hang in Japan’s first ever jury trial of a capital crime.
The murders in question were committed by a 32-year-old Yokohama resident, Hiroyuki Ikeda, against 2 men he did not even know.
Ikeda is said to have aspired to become a drug baron, and in order to further his trafficking aspirations he fell in with a 26-year-old man with a problem – he was involved in an ownership dispute over a Kabukicho mahjong parlour, and needed two men dealt with.
Ikeda assured him he was a “man who could kill people” and that he would take care of the problem in return for a stimulant dealing concession.
He proceeded to kidnap the 28-year-old manager of the mahjong establishment and a 36-year-old “company employee” (as most media reports call him – in fact he worked at a brothel) connected to the affair, holding them captive in a hotel. He also took the opportunity to rob the manager of $160,000.
The matter was far from dealt with however, as he still intended to kill them both. He started with the manager, whose death would be particularly hideous – he was decapitated alive with a power-saw.
The court was shown the flatcar-mounted power saw used in the crime, and heard how the victim begged for his life, cowering as his captor attempted to force his neck into the saw – his last entreaties were “Please, at least kill me first before you cut my head off!” but his murderer was having none of it, merely telling him “Stay still, I can’t get it to cut properly!”
After he was decapitated, hacked into pieces and stuffed into garbage bags for disposal, his killer remarked to his accomplice that “it’s just like a doll or something really.” His defence claimed this was as he was struggling to cope with the terrible fear of police bursting in on him.
His second victim, the pimp, was marginally luckier – he was killed by being stabbed in the head with a fruit knife, and then dismembered and disposed of in much the same way.
The crimes came to light when the dismembered torso of one victim and the lower half of another were discovered dumped, and further searches turned up arms and a head. Police soon launched an investigation.
Ikeda later found himself arrested for drug trafficking, and soon confessed to involvement with the murders.
A further 8 people were arrested in connection with the case, and an international arrest warrant has been issued on the man who requested the killings after he apparently fled the country.
To what extent the yakuza were involved with what is clearly not an individual crime is not clear – Japan’s worthless mass media almost completely avoid all mention of just who was behind all this.
A guilty verdict at the trial was not in any realistic doubt, but the question of whether he would be sentenced to hang has been the subject of much speculation, not least because this trial was the first death penalty case to involve “lay judges,” Japan’s watered down version of a jury, introduced in only 2005.
Once the trial reached its sentencing phase he was swiftly declared guilty of a variety of crimes including murder and corpse disposal, with the presiding judge sentencing him to death.
It is thought he will launch an appeal, his defence hinting that they consider the proceedings to not have given them enough time.
In Japan, still largely unfamiliar with the enlightened concept of allowing those too stupid or self righteous to excuse themselves from jury duty to determine the outcome of a trial, there have been doubts raised as to whether their spineless countrymen have the guts to order someone to the gallows.
These doubts appear to be unfounded, although non-Japanese observers might still be concerned about just how independent the verdicts are with the presence of actual judges “guiding” the verdict.
Even so, a female lay judge was said to have broken into tears whilst watching the man she had just condemned to death, and there are many in Japan who would like to see the death penalty abolished altogether – having to deal with recalcitrant jurors may yet hasten this process.