Disability Japan Sagamihara

Families of the victims of care home massacre ask questions of the accused

On February 5th, families of the victims asked questions of the defendant using the victim participation program.

By Barrier Free Japan with extracts translated from NHK & Kyodo via The Japan Times

February 5th 2020

YOKOHAMA– The trial of a man accused of killing 19 people and injuring 24 others at a care home in Sagamihara City on July 26th 2016, resumed on February 5th after an eight day hiatus.

Satoshi Uematsu, aged 30, has pleaded not guilty to killing 19 residents and injuring dozens more at the Tsukui Lily Garden facility for people with disabilities in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

When asked about his mental state, Uematsu said, “It pains me to talk with the family of the deceased.” When talking about the attack at the Sagamihara care facility, he said it was: “[T]he most meaningful thing I could do,” also saying that “[I]t is wrong to take care of those with serious mental disabilities.”

On February 5th, families of the victims asked questions of the defendant using the victim participation program.

The brother of a woman (60) who was killed and was referred to as ‘Party E’ at the trial, stood next to the prosecutor without any of the shielding that was being offered to protect the victims and the victims’ families, turned towards the defendant saying:

“I couldn’t stop my tears at the peaceful sleeping face of my murdered sister, but please tell me more about the situation.”

The brother of ‘Party E’ also questioned the defendant in a restrained and polite tone throughout, asking “Do you like yourself?”

In addition, the presiding judge asked the defendant if he could communicate with the disabled, and the defendant replied, “Sometimes they listened to his request and laughed.”

When the presiding judge asked again, “Isn’t that [communication] possible?” The defendant immediately said, “I don’t think they’ve been able to communicate as a person.”

The defendant then said, “Sometimes he apologized to the victim, but when asked why he killed, he just said,” I can’t help it.”

Takashi Ono, aged 76, the father Of Kazuya Ono, aged 46, who was seriously injured, asked the defendant, “Are you happy now?” to which the defendant responded, “I am not happy because I am inconvenienced.”

“The families were able to live with happiness,” Takashi Ono said. In response, Uematsu apologized to his family.

Takashi Ono was also planning to ask questions about the defendant’s parents, but said that the defendant’s lawyer had dissented and the request was not accepted.

The trial began on January 8th and is set to conclude on March 16th.

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