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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Japan suspect in serial killing questioned by prosecutors

Takahiro Shiraishi, 27, has confessed to killing and dismembering nine bodies found in his apartment, police say

Suspect Takahiro Shiraishi (C) covers his face with his hands as he is transported to the prosecutor's office from a police station in Tokyo on November 1, 2017. 
The 27-year-old Japanese man, who was arrested after police found nine dismembered corpses rotting in his house, has confessed to killing all his victims over a two-month spree after contacting them via Twitter, media reports. / AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS / STR / Japan OUT
Suspect Takahiro Shiraishi (C) covers his face with his hands as he is transported to the prosecutor's office from a police station in Tokyo on November 1, 2017. The 27-year-old Japanese man, who was arrested after police found nine dismembered corpses rotting in his house, has confessed to killing all his victims over a two-month spree after contacting them via Twitter, media reports. / AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS / STR / Japan OUT

A Japanese man who police say confessed to killing and dismembering nine bodies found in his apartment was handed over to prosecutors for further questioning on Wednesday as more chilling details emerged.

The questioning by prosecutors is a procedure before formal indictment.

So far, Takahiro Shiraishi, 27, only faces a possible charge of abandoning bodies, but police are expected to seek murder and dismembering charges as well.

Mr Shiraishi stuck both hands underneath his glasses to cover his face as a police car taking him to the prosecutors' office passed in front of a huge crowd of journalists trying to get a glimpse of him.

Police arrested him on Tuesday after finding the bodies — eight female and one male — in cold-storage cases inside his apartment in Zama, a city south-west of the capital. Police say he confessed to trying to hide the evidence.

Police found the bodies, some covered with cat litter, while searching for a 23-year-old woman who had disappeared after exchanging Twitter messages with someone, allegedly Mr Shiraishi. They are working to identify the victims, saying she might be among them.

The gruesome case has captured attention in a country known for public safety, topping news with reports that showed the building where the suspect lived in a small studio apartment.

On Wednesday, media reports quoted investigative sources as saying Mr Shiraishi started killing as soon as he moved into his apartment in late August. His first victim was another woman whom he got in touch via Twitter, offering to assist her suicide wish, according to media reports, including NHK public television. He then killed her boyfriend to silence him, the reports said.

They said Mr Shiraishi used similar tactics to kill seven other women, four of them teenagers. A police official on Tuesday said a toolbox and saw found in Mr Shiraishi's apartment may have been used to dismember the bodies.

Japanese media quoted his neighbours as saying they had noticed foul smells coming from the apartment. Mr Shiraishi threw out some of the body parts as garbage, along with the victims' belongings, reports said.

The reports added that the missing woman got in contact with Mr Shiraishi via Twitter in late September, seeking a partner for a suicide pact and saying she was afraid to die alone. The two were recorded by security cameras walking together outside of train stations near her residence and the suspect's apartment on October 23.

The woman's brother reported her disappearance to police the next day. The suspect told police his motives were money and sexual abuse, Japanese media reported on Wednesday, but police refused to confirm the reports.

Local media ran a junior high school photo of the suspect, beaming, his hair fluffy, braces on his teeth suggesting a relatively well-off family background. But there was little other information about him other than that he is from Zama. Reports have said he was working as a "scout" in the sex industry, recruiting women in entertainment districts in Tokyo.

Internet suicide sites have been a concern in Japan since the late 1990s. In 2005, a man in Osaka lured three people via the internet with promises to assist in their suicides, and strangled them. He was sentenced to death.