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Abe murder suspect’s psychiatric evaluation extended, reports say

By AFP
17 November 2022   |   2:18 pm
A psychiatric assessment of whether a man accused of killing former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is fit to stand trial has been extended to February, media reports said Thursday.

Tetsuya Yamagami, suspected of killing former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is escorted by a police officer as he is taken to prosecutors, at Nara-nishi police station in Nara, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 10, 2022. Mandatory credit Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.

A psychiatric assessment of whether a man accused of killing former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is fit to stand trial has been extended to February, media reports said Thursday.

Suspect Tetsuya Yamagami was apprehended at the scene when Abe was shot dead in broad daylight in July.

Prosecutors halted questioning of Yamagami weeks later in order to examine his mental state around the time of the incident.

The assessment had been due to wrap up in late November but will now continue until February 6, Jiji Press and other Japanese media outlets reported.

The prosecutors’ office in Nara, where Abe was killed, did not respond immediately to an AFP request for comment.

A rare state funeral was held in September to honour Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier.

Yamagami reportedly targeted Abe in the belief that the former premier was linked to the Unification Church. He reportedly resented the church over large donations his mother made to it that left his family bankrupt.

Abe was not a member of the church but had addressed an affiliated group, as have other powerful speakers such as former US president Donald Trump.

Founded in Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon, the church — whose members are sometimes referred to as “Moonies” — rose to global prominence in the 1970s and 80s.

The church, officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, has denied wrongdoing and pledged to prevent “excessive” donations from members.

Outrage over politicians’ links to the church has caused approval ratings for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration to plummet.

Kishida has ordered a government investigation that could see the Unification Church lose its tax-exempt status in Japan, although it could still continue to operate.