Pretrial Procedure for Alleged Abe Killer Canceled over Suspicious Item

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Staff and visitors wait outside the Nara District Court while the safety of the building is checked on Monday.

NARA (Jiji Press) — The Nara District Court canceled Monday’s pretrial conference procedure for the suspect of the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after a suspicious cardboard box arrived at the court in western Japan on the day.

After the box was checked with a metal detector, an official at the court in the city of Nara reported the incident to the Nara Prefectural Police.

While people inside the court, including staff workers, were evacuated, the police department’s bomb disposal unit moved the box outside the court. The box was delivered to the court around 11:15 a.m.

According to police sources, the box contained a large volume of documents but no dangerous objects. It was sent from Tokyo to a person in charge of the pretrial procedure for the suspect.

The documents were a petition with signatures calling for a light sentence for the suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, 42, who faces charges including gunning down Abe in the city of Nara in July last year.

The day’s pretrial procedure for Yamagami was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Monday, but the event was called off. Yamagami had indicated that he would attend the hearing, according to sources.

The court said that it decided to cancel the procedure because a potentially hazardous object was found and it was dealing with the incident. According to the police, the box is some 33 centimeters long, 28 centimeters wide and 26 centimeters high.