A Japanese man, dubbed the “Twitter killer,” has pleaded guilty to murdering and dismembering nine people in 2017 after he lured them via social media.

Takahiro Shiraishi, 29, told a Tokyo court on Wednesday ( sept 30 ) that he had used Twitter and other online platforms to contact people who had expressed suicidal thoughts.

Shiraishi allegedly told his victims that he could help them die, and in some cases, also promised he would kill himself alongside them.

He then invited them to his apartment in Zama, 25 miles south-west of Tokyo, where he sexually assaulted, strangled, and dismembered them.

If Shiraishi is convicted of murder, he will be given the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Japan. If the lawyer’s arguments are accepted, Shiraishi charges would be reduced to “murder with consent”, which carries a lower prison sentence of between six months and seven years.

However, in an interview with Japan-based newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, 29-year-old Shiraishi disagreed with his lawyer. He said he would tell the prosecutor that he “killed without consent.”

“There were bruises on the back of the victims’ heads,” Shiraishi told the newspaper. “It means there was no consent and I did it so that they wouldn’t resist”.

Shiraishi is accused of dismembering his victims and storing their body parts in cool boxes and is also reportedly facing rape charges.

Shiraishi is alleged to have stolen cash from them and sexually assaulted all the female victims. He owed one of the women around ¥360,000 ($3,410).

The case shocked many and prompted the government and social networking service businesses to increase support for young people in need of help.

Following the incident, Twitter Japan started allowing users to be linked to a nonprofit organization on suicide prevention work whenever words related to suicide are searched.

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