A Tokyo court on Monday sentenced the man behind the Halloween 2021 “Joker” train stabbing and fire to 23 years in prison. Photo by Jiji Press/EPA-EFE
July 31 (UPI) — A Tokyo district court on Monday sentenced the man behind the 2021 “Joker” stabbing on a crowded train during Halloween to 23 years in prison.
Prosecutors sought a 25-year prison sentence for 26-year-old Kyota Hattori, charging him with attempted murder of 12 passengers by arson but the court ultimately excluded two of those charges in its sentencing decision.
“There remains a reasonable doubt that [the two passengers] were at a place where their lives may have been in danger,” Judge Yu Takeshita said of the time that the situation at the time when the fire began.
At least 17 people were injured after the attack in which Hattori stabbed a 70-year-old man in the chest on a 10-car train traveling from Hachioji to Shinjuku.
Other victims ranging in age from their teens to their 60s were injured by smoke inhalation as spread lighter fluid on the train and set it ablaze.
Physicians initially listed the man injured during the attack in critical condition before recovering over the course of three months. Prosecutors said the attack was premeditated and Hattori’s motive was “extremely selfish and deserving of strong condemnation.”
Hattori had pleaded guilty to both the stabbing and arson but claimed he had not intended to kill anyone during the fire since most of the passengers had escaped the railcar by the time he set the fire. The defense had asked the court for a 12-year prison sentence.
Hattori said he had contemplated suicide after breaking up with his fiancée and receiving a negative work transfer but felt he could get the death penalty with the train attack.
He was dressed as the DC Comics character the Joker at the time and told the court he wanted to fully “commit” to the Joker character, a villain in the comic series, so he could carry out the crime.
Prosecutors claimed that there had been copycat attacks since Hattori’s attack, forcing railway companies to add more security measures.
“Since the Keio Line and Odakyu Line attacks occurred two years ago, we’ve been working with companies after each incident to devise prevention plans,” Transport Ministry official Takayuki Masuda said. “We are currently in the process of putting them into action.”