JAPAN: MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR DOG-REVENGE MURDERS
March 30, 2010: a Japanese court sentenced to death a man who murdered a former vice-minister and his wife to avenge the death of his pet dog, which had been put down decades earlier.
The court handed the punishment to Takeshi Koizumi, 48, after rejecting his lawyer's argument that he was mentally incompetent, said officials at the Saitama District Court north of Tokyo.
The court was told that Koizumi stabbed to death former vice-health minister Takehiko Yamaguchi, 66, and his wife Michiko, 61, on November 17, 2008 while they were asleep at their home in Saitama.
The following day he also wounded the wife of another former vice-health minister, the top post in the ministry's bureaucracy.
Japan, which has one of the world's lowest crime rates, was shocked by the attacks, particularly after Koizumi said his motive was revenge because his dog Chiro had been put down more than 30 years earlier.
Although stray dogs are sometimes put down in Japan by municipalities to control diseases such as rabies, Koizumi blamed the health ministry, believing its officials had killed the dog when he was at high school.
"The crime was very deliberate and extremely brutal," presiding judge Yoshihisa Denda told the court according to the Sankei Shimbun daily online.
"Even if he cherished the dog a lot, this serious crime cannot be justified," the judge said. "The multiple murders sent a big shock through society. There is no room for consideration."
In a letter to his father, Koizumi reportedly wrote: "The public health office killed our family dog Chiro on April 5, 1974. I avenged his death."
The pet was reported to be a former stray that had lived with the family for about a year before it was put down. (Sources: Agence France Presse, 30/03/2010)