Suspect in Abe murder judged mentally competent to be indicted

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tetsuya Yamagami

The Nara District Public Prosecutors Office has judged that Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspect in the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Nara City in July, is mentally competent to be held responsible for the criminal act, according to sources.

Yamagami, a 42-year-old jobless man, was referred to prosecutors on suspicion of murder and has been under psychiatric evaluation. The prosecutors made their judgment based on the evaluation results.

The period during which he may be detained in relation to the evaluation expires on Jan. 10. The prosecutors office aims to indict him by Jan. 13, when the period for detaining him over the murder charge expires.

Yamagami shot Abe, who was delivering an election campaign speech on a street near Yamato-Saidaiji Station on the Kintetsu Line in the city, around 11:30 a.m. on July 8, according to the police. He was arrested on the spot on suspicion of attempted murder.

On July 10, the charge against him was revised to murder and he was sent to the prosecutors office.

During questioning after the arrest, Yamagami testified that he held grudge against the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, commonly known as the Unification Church, as his mother has been a follower of the religious organization and she donated large amounts of money to it.

As the reason for attacking Abe, Yamagami was quoted as explaining that he believed Abe had ties with the religious organization.

In a letter he sent to a journalist the day before the shooting, Yamagami wrote of Abe, “He is not my primary enemy,” also saying, “He is no more than one of the most influential sympathizers of the Unification Church.”

Anticipating that Yamagami’s mental competence to be held responsible at trial would become an issue, the prosecutors office had him detained for psychiatric evaluation that took four months, from July 25 to Nov. 29.

Specialist doctors repeatedly interviewed Yamagami to examine how he had grown up and probe his psychological condition at the time of the crime. The prosecutors office held hearings about outcome of the evaluations.

In addition, the prosecutors office extended the period of detention for psychiatric evaluation to make its judgment more carefully.

According to sources, the psychiatric evaluation of Yamagami did not find any mental illness that could greatly affect his ability to judge between right and wrong.

The prosecutors office also considered such points as that Yamagami prepared a homemade gun and checked Abe’s schedule of street speeches in advance.

Finding that he had acted based on a plan before the attack, the prosecutors office judged it possible to lay a criminal charge against Yamagami.