Prosecutors at the Yokohama District Court will decide within the next week whether three minors -- arrested for the murder of a 13-year-old boy in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, in February -- will be tried as adults.
The latest development comes after the Yokohama Family Court decided on Tuesday to send the three suspects, two boys aged 18 and one boy aged 17, back to prosecutors, Fuji TV reported.
The three were arrested on suspicion of killing Ryota Uemura whose naked body was found on the bank of the Tama River in Kawasaki on Feb 20. One of the 18-year-old boys -- said to be the ringleader -- has told police he killed Uemura with a box cutter that was found near the scene of the crime, while the other two have pleaded not guilty to the murder.
The ringleader said that he killed Uemura because he told others how he had been beaten for refusing to shoplift at the 18-year-old's instructions. Before killing Uemura, the 18-year-old said he also ordered him to swim naked in the river to punish him.
Uemura joined a gang whose members were aged from 12 to 20 last November. Uemura was seriously beaten in mid-January and was rarely seen at school after that.
Police have established from records on Line that the 17-year-old youth contacted Uemura on the night of Feb 19, telling him to come out and meet them. The three suspects were identified through street surveillance camera footage that showed them walking with Uemura toward the spot where he was murdered. Footage showed them walking back without Uemura.
The suspects burned the victim's clothes and shoes in a public toilet about 800 meters from where the victim's body was found.
One of them said he wanted to intervene when he saw Uemura lying on the ground bleeding, but that the 18-year-old threatened to kill him, too.© Japan Today