Japan's Supreme Court on Monday upheld the death sentence for a man who killed
a young mother and her baby daughter when he was a juvenile, ending years of
campaigning by the victim's husband.
The decision closes a case that captured the public's imagination as the
distraught father and husband Hiroshi Motomura fought for years to bring the
killer to justice.
Presiding judge Seishi Kanetsuki said the death penalty was inevitable for
Takayuki Otsuki, who was 18 when he raped and killed 23-year-old Yayoi Motomura
before strangling to death her 11-month-old daughter Yuka in 1999 in Yamaguchi,
Otsuki, who is now 30, was found guilty in 2000 and initially jailed for life
by a district court, with judges citing the fact that he was a juvenile --
deemed as anyone below 20 under the Juvenile Act -- for their leniency.
The sentence was upheld by Hiroshima High Court in 2002 following an appeal by
The decisions led Motomura to tell media that he would wait for Otsuki's
release and kill him.
However, following a long campaign by Motomura, the case was finally heard in
2006 by the Supreme Court, which asked the high court to review the sentence.
It said the original high court decision failed to offer clear rationale to
avoid the death penalty.
Two years later the high court changed its decision and passed the death
sentence on Otsuki.
Upholding that decision on Monday, Kanetsuki said hanging was inevitable.
"His criminal responsibility is so significant that we must approve death
penalty, even though he was a juvenile at the time of the crime," he said.
After the announcement Motomura said he hoped Otsuki would accept his penalty.
"Is it social justice to give a person an opportunity to return to the society
when someone younger than 20 years old kills? Or is it social justice to have
the person to pay for the crime with death?" he said.
"I thought very hard. Perhaps, there is no right answer."
The death penalty will be confirmed after an administrative review period of 10
While Japanese law provides some protection from the death penalty for
juveniles, it does allow for those above the age of 18 to face the gallows in
(source: Agence France-Presse)