Japan court finds man guilty of insulting father whose family died in accident

A Japanese court has found a man guilty of insulting, through social media, a man whose wife and daughter were killed in a car accident in 2019.

The Tokyo District Court handed Yuri Junichi a suspended prison sentence on Friday.

Prosecutors said Yuri posted defamatory tweets about the deadly accident that took place in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district. They said he insulted the father of the family, Matsunaga Takuya. They also said the 23-year-old defendant posted tweets that Matsunaga appeared to have fought in court against the driver who caused the accident, only for money and attention.

Prosecutors also accused Yuri of fraudulent obstruction of business. They said he forced officials to begin the process of cancelling a planned car-free zone in Tokyo's Akihabara district with a comment hinting at a recurrence of a deadly stabbing rampage there in 2008.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the insult charge, saying he did not intend to offend Matsunaga.

Judge Yasunaga Kenji said the defendant's explanation was "extremely unnatural and untrustworthy." The judge said Yuri did not consider Matsunaga's feelings and degraded his social standing. But the judge also said Yuri expressed remorse over the comments.

The court sentenced Yuri to one year in prison, suspended for five. It also ruled that he be held in detention for 29 days.

When the ruling is finalized, Yuri will be incarcerated at a penal institution because the suspension does not apply to the detention order.