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Judge orders serial arsonist to prison

Date Posted: 2011-07-07

Masato Chinen won’t be setting any more fires in and around Urasoe City thanks to a judge who’s sentenced him to 30 years in prison for setting a string of arson fires over the course of early 2009.

Naha District Court judge Hideyuki Suzuki ruled that “thinking in light of the facts, including his actions caused two deaths is a malicious crime and the circumstances surrounding the crimes are exceedingly malicious”, sent the 35-year-old Chinen away for three decades. At sentencing, he told Chinen “it can’t be denied there could be a possibility of repeating an offense” if he gave a lesser sentence.

Chinen’s trial combined 13 arson fires, including one that totally destroyed a house in Urasoe City. Other fires were set to cars and buildings. Additional charges levied against Chinen included two thefts and an assault.

The deaths of two people in the course of Chinen’s arson spree had the judge particular upset, criticizing Chinen, saying the damage to property, as well as the mental and physical harm to victims was serious and threatened conspicuous recidivism of crime. He also told Chinen he couldn’t understand what would cause anyone to cause two deaths, calling Chinen’s actions “inhumane”.

The judge told the court he took into account mental retardation and cruel treatment which Chinen had been subjected to as a youngster, but rejected the past as a rationale for committing the violent, dangerous crimes. Judge Suzuki relayed a message from a four-man lay judges jury panel that “The responsibility of the defendant is dangerous, and we hope you atone for the offense. We also home you can one day return to the community after rehabilitation.”

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