Suspect in Assassination of Shinzo Abe Charged with Murder

January 13, 2023

Prosecutors in Tokyo formally charged Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspect in the assassination of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with murder on Friday. 

Yamagami was arrested immediately after Abe was shot with a homemade handgun. The Japanese leader had been making a campaign speech in July outside a train station in Nara in Western Japan. 42-year-old Yamagami then underwent a six-month mental evaluation, which prosecutors showed he is fit to stand trial.

Nara District Public Prosecutors Office charged Yamagami with violating gun laws as well as with murder, a spokesperson at Nara district court said.

He reportedly held a grudge against the Unification Church for impoverishing his family, saying it persuaded his mother to donate around 100 million yen, or $774,700, and blamed Abe for promoting the religious organization that many call a “cult.”

Japanese law allows capital punishment for murder, but experts say the death penalty usually is handed down for multiple killings and Yamagami is more likely to get life in prison if convicted.

No date is set for the trial, which is expected to have a panel of civil jurors in addition to the usual bench judges that are typical in murder cases and other serious criminal trials in Japan. There are no pretrial hearings in Japan. However, due to the case’s complexity, it could take months before Yamagami’s trial begins.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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