The Supreme Court has upheld a 2016 ruling by the Hiroshima High Court denying an appeal by a 69-year-old man sentenced to death for the murders of five people in the mountain hamlet of Shunan, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in July 2013.
In July 2015, the Yamaguchi District Court sentenced Kosei Homi to death for killing five of his neighbors in the remote community. Homi had pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and arson at his trial by reason of insanity.
The five victims represented a third of the population of the hamlet. Three corpses were found after two houses were burned to the ground, while the bodies of two more people were found in their homes. All five were in their 70s and all had been battered with a wooden rod or stabbed to death.
A haiku poem was found stuck to the window of Homi's house. It read: "Setting a fire -- smoke gives delight -- to a country fellow."
Homi had left his house, two cars and his dog behind and when he was found on a little-used mountain trail, he was barefoot and in his underwear. Police found a mobile phone registered to Homi and a shirt and a pair of pants that belonged to him in the mountains. Homi's fingerprints were found on the wooden rod.
Homi had a reputation in the village as a troublemaker, frequently getting angry because he thought people were bad-mouthing him, local media reported, adding that he had once boasted to neighbors that he would be immune from prosecution if he killed people because he was on medication.
The Yamaguchi court acknowledged that Homi suffered from a delusional disorder but ruled that he knew what he was doing when he committed the arson-murders.
Thursday's decision was handed down by the top court's No. 1 Petty Bench. The top court acknowledged that Homi was mentally competent to be held fully responsible for his conduct even though he had been diagnosed as suffering from a type of delusional disorder at the time of the crime, Kyodo News reported.
"Delusion affected the development of the motive, but he carried out the killings based on his own sense of values. The influence of delusion on his actions was not that significant," it said.© Japan Today/Kyodo