The Supreme Court upheld the death
sentence given by a lower court to a man who murdered four female bar
managers in western Japan in less than a month in 1991. The decision
makes the death sentence final for Masakatsu Nishikawa, 49, who was
convicted of murder and robbery.
Nishikawa murdered the women between Dec 13 and Dec
28 in 1991 by strangling or stabbing them at the bars they managed. He
pleaded guilty but claimed he should not be criminally liable because he
had drunken a large quantity of alcohol, which made him feeble-minded,
while he maintained was not guilty of the three other murders.
Execution verdict upheld on serial hostess killer
June 20, 2001
Despite a deprived childhood, no grounds exist to prevent mass murderer
Masakatsu Nishikawa from being executed for his crimes, the Osaka High
Court ruled Wednesday morning.
Dismissing a lower court ruling that ordered Nishikawa
be sent to the gallows, the high court upheld the 45-year-old man's
conviction for robbery and murder or injury of five middle-aged women in
the early '90s.
"Your crimes were cruel and callous, all based on
a premeditated intent to murder defenseless women," Presiding Judge
Motoyasu Kawakami said as he upheld the death sentence. Nishikawa, a
Tottori native who now uses the surname Kaneda, was convicted of four
counts of robbery and murder, all for crimes that occurred in 1991. His
victims were all hostess bar operators. There were two 55-year-olds, one
from Matsue and the other from Kyoto, a 51-year-old from the ancient
capital and a 45-year-old from Himeji.
Nishikawa was also found guilty of a fifth offense,
robbery resulting in attempted murder after he tried to strangle a woman
in Osaka during January 1992, leaving her within an inch of her life.
Defense lawyers argued that Nishikawa was innocent of
the first three murders. They admitted the Himeji killing, but said
their client was suffering from a nervous condition and was also drunk
at the time. Lawyers said he had no idea what he was doing and could not
be held responsible for the killing.
Kawakami dismissed Nishikawa's claims of innocence,
saying that DNA tests showed he had been responsible for the three
killings. He also threw out claims of Nishikawa's reduced mental state.
"No grounds exist to suggest reasonable doubt
that Nishikawa knew what he was doing," Kawakami ruled.
Kawakami did concede that Nishikawa had a background
filled with strife, but remained adamant that he should die for his
"Even considering that a deprived childhood had
an adverse affect on the shaping of his character, I can so no other
option but to carry out the death sentence," Kawakami said.