Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First death sentence in lay judge trial

"A man charged with brutally murdering two men was sentenced to death in a ruling at the Yokohama District Court on Nov. 16, marking the first time for the ultimate penalty to be handed down in a lay judge trial.

"The 32-year-old defendant, Hiroyuki Ikeda, was sentenced to death for murdering a 28-year-old mah-jongg parlor manager and another 36-year-old man in Chiba Prefecture in 2009.

"In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Yoshifumi Asayama said the death penalty could not be avoided.

""The cruelty of his actions was inhuman, and the ultimate penalty cannot be avoided even if circumstances are taken into consideration to the maximum possible extent," the judge said.

"Ikeda admitted to a charge of murder and robbery, which carries a sentence of death or life imprisonment, and public prosecutors demanded the death penalty. It was the second time in a citizen judge trial for the death penalty to be sought. Lawyers for Ikeda requested avoidance of the death penalty, and the focus of the case was on the sentence.

"During the trial, Ikeda said, "Whatever the ruling is, I want to serve the sentence without resenting anyone." After the ruling, however, the judge made the rare move of recommending that the defense file an appeal due to the seriousness of the decision.

"The ruling adopted standards for handing down the death penalty that included the level of brutality of the murder method, the motive and the victim's feelings.

"Commenting on the fact that Ikeda had ignored the pleas of the two victims for their lives and used an electric saw and knife to cut their throats, the ruling said, "It was an extremely grotesque crime and among the conceivable methods of killing it was exceedingly brutal and the suffering of the victims is unimaginable." The ruling added that Ikeda was ruthless in refusing the final wishes of the victims to call their families.

"The ruling said that the motive was sparked by a request from Takero Kondo, the former manager of the mah-jongg parlor who had gotten into an argument with the two victims over management of the parlor. However, the court added that Ikeda had wanted to show off his power and obtain access to illegal drugs that Kondo allegedly ordered the smuggling of, and criticized his actions as "selfish and malicious." Kondo, 26, is on an international wanted list for alleged crimes including murder and robbery.

"The court said the shock and sadness felt by the victims' families was enormous and concluded that there was no option but to hand down the death penalty when considering the brutality, maliciousness, calculated nature and result of the crime.

"The ruling came 1 1/2 years after the launch of the lay judge system, under which citizen judges have a say in sentences.

"In a news conference after the ruling one of the six lay judges, a man in his 50s, said he was troubled by the case and wept several times in the courtroom.

""Even now I cry when I remember it," he said, adding that he fretted each day over whether the defendant should be sentenced to life imprisonment or death.

"Asked about his impression of Ikeda in court, he said, "In the trial, it looked like he was saying, 'I've done something bad, kill me.' But when we saw him listening to the opinions of the bereaved families, we could see his eyes going red with tears, and we cried as well."

"However, the lay judge said he tried to focus on the sentence as prescribed by law rather than on the defendant.

""Looking at the defendant alone in court you would cry and a proper trial couldn't go ahead," he said."

By Mainichi Shimbun (11/16/2010), Link to article (last visited 11/17/2010)

1 comment:

uk immigration lawyer said...

The death penalty is often a major topic of debate in countries that still practice it, such as the United States. Many religious ideologies are opposed to putting people to death, and many modern philosophical theories of ethics disagree with the practice as well.