FUKUI (TR) – On the morning of October 19, 2019, the body of Yuki Shimada, then 20, was floating at sea near the cliffs at Tojinbo in Sakai City.
Police later arrested seven of Shimada’s acquaintances (one man and six youths) on suspicion of murder and other crimes, an incident they tried to frame as suicide, according to the latest court ruling in the case, reports the Asahi Shimbun (July 14).
At the Otsu District Court on July 14, presiding judge Naoki Onishi said that one defendant, now 21, “played a leading role” in the crime in handing him a 19-year prison term.
The month before, the same court handed 41-year-old Norihito Ueda, a construction worker, a 10-year term. The five others had already been convicted in separate rulings.
No motive was mentioned. However, the Chunichi Shimbun (July 14) indicated that the 21-year-old defendant orchestrated the incident over a problem between Shimada and a gangster.
According to the rulings, the incident was carried out by Onishi, Ueda and the five others — then aged between 17 and 19 — over a 27-hour period spanning October 16 to October 18, 2019.
During the incident, the seven ran Shimada over with a car and beat him wooden bats and a fry pan. They also bashed him in the mouth with a hammer, causing at least one broken tooth.
After they abducted him into the trunk of the vehicle and drove him over a distance of about 100 kilometers from Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture to Sakai.
They then forced him to leap from the top of the cliff and into the water — a drop of about 20 meters.
“It must have been painful to have been relentlessly assaulted,” judge Onishi said after handing down the ruling on July 14. “Did you imagine Shimada-san’s feelings of despair and pain? These are mistakes that are so serious as to be irreparable.”
An investigator told the site for weekly tabloid Shukan Josei in October 2019, “[Shimada] died from a brain contusion caused by slamming his head against a rock after falling 20 meters. Also, his body had multiple bruises, which are believed to have been due to the assault.”
During the trial of the perpetrator who is now 21, he told the court that another member of the group “put handcuffs on Shimada-san and punched him in the face.”
He also said that a member of the group suggested Tojinbo — a known as a suicide spot — as the location where Shimada should die.
“A gorgeous ending,” one member of the group said after Shimada plunged into the water, the perpetrator who is now 21 told the court.