A 41-year-old man was found not guilty of assault after claiming electromagnetic waves from a smartphone were stabbing his body.

According to the trial, in March of 2014, a train was stopped at JR Kiiyamada Station in Hashimoto City, Wakayama. On board one car were a homeless man and a man in his 20s who was minding his own business, playing on his smartphone. After repeatedly shouting at the victim to stop his smartphone usage, the homeless man got up and began punching and kicking the young man.

In court the assailant confessed to his attack but claimed it was justified, testifying that “The electromagnetic waves from the smartphone were stabbing my body and causing pain to spread throughout it. Besides, the priority seating was nearby and its good manners to turn off the phone. I couldn’t take the pain and warned him to stop, but he ignored me. That made me angry so I blew up.”

A psychiatric evaluation was conducted and determined that the attacker suffered from schizophrenia. Considering this and hearing the plaintiff’s defense, the presiding judge at Wakayama District Court determined that he was “affected by hallucinations and delusions in a state of insanity where he could not tell right from wrong.” He then found the man “not guilty.”

Reaction to the verdict online was overwhelmingly one-sided.

“Being insane is the best; you are allowed to do anything.”
“Schizophrenia patients are like mines floating through the city.”
“I also want a medical certificate saying I’m insane. How much is one?”
“If you’re nuts it’s a crime buffet!”
“If he’s not guilty, I think it’s the District Court that’s a little odd.”
“He was aware enough to know that using a smartphone near priority seating was bad manners. I say he’s guilty.”

Much of the anger seemed to be based on the limited information in the article. Simply saying the homeless man was acquitted and found not guilty might lead some to assume he was just allowed to waltz out of the courthouse by himself. That was not the case, of course, since any mentally ill patient who is deemed a threat to themselves or others will be committed to a mental hospital.

I spoke with the former president of a Kansai area mental hospital who said that these incidents weren’t that uncommon, but this one was unique in that the case wasn’t thrown out or settled before reaching a verdict. A man such as this attacker would likely be committed to receive treatment and counseling, possibly lasting several months, before being allowed back into public.

To some, it may still seem that justice hasn’t been carried out, but the homeless man is hardly running around with impunity. We hope both of the men will be able to continue their lives without further incident.

Source:  Sankei West News via Itai News (Japanese)
Top Image: RocketNews24