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Suspect in Abe shooting sent to police in Nara Pref. after psych exam; charges expected

Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspect in the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is transferred to Nara Nishi Police Station on the afternoon of Jan. 10, 2023. (Mainichi/Takehiko Onishi)

Nara Prefectural Police transferred the man accused of fatally gunning down 67-year-old former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a police station in the prefecture on Jan. 10 following a psychiatric examination to determine his mental fitness to stand trial.

    Following the examination, the Nara District Public Prosecutors Office appears to have judged that Tetsuya Yamagami, 42, is competent to face criminal charges over the July 2022 assassination. He is expected to be indicted on charges of murder and violating the firearms law before his detention expires on Jan. 13.

    A vehicle carrying Yamagami left the Osaka detention center in the city of Osaka's Miyakojima Ward, where he had been held, at about 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 10. Traveling between other police vehicles for protection, he arrived at Nara Nishi Police Station, the location of the assassination investigation headquarters, without incident.

    Abe was shot from behind as he was giving a stump speech ahead of a House of Councillors election near the north exit of Kintetsu Railway's Yamato-Saidaiji Station in the city of Nara at around 11:30 a.m. on July 8, 2022. Yamagami was immediately arrested on the scene on suspicion of attempted murder. Abe died the same evening, and police sent Yamagami to public prosecutors on an upgraded murder charge. He was additionally accused of firing a homemade gun and aggravated firearms possession.

    Investigative sources quoted Yamagami as saying that he had come to hate the Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, which his mother had followed, and decided to attack Abe in the belief that the former prime minister had helped promote the group's activities in Japan.

    If public prosecutors indict Yamagami on murder and other charges, he will be subject to a trial including citizen judges, and the focus of the case will likely be whether he can be held criminally responsible, and if so, to what degree. Because of this, public prosecutors requested an expert psychiatric examination of Yamagami during his detention for evaluation that began on July 25, and have been carefully checking his background and mental condition at the time of the incident.

    (Japanese original by Yuhi Yoshikawa, Takeshi Kawabata and Mizuki Hayashi, Nara Bureau)

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