False mea culpa in hacker case begs question: What's behind a made-up confession?
When a young Fukuoka man was asked why he had confessed to e-mailing a threat against a Tokyo kindergarten, a threat actually made by a mysterious hacker who had hijacked his computer, he apparently told police it was to protect a woman.
"I wanted to shield the woman I'm living with," the 28-year-old apparently told Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) investigators of his false mea culpa. He was arrested in Sept. 1 this year on suspicion of forcible obstruction of business over the threatening e-mail sent from his PC's IP address. When MPD officers searched his home that day he denied making the threat, but then admitted to it after investigators found a copy of the incriminating text on his computer.
Later, the man told police that it was "too painful to keep on lying" and once again denied sending the e-mail. When officers told him that the woman he was living with had also denied sending the e-mail, the man once again claimed responsibility. The man apparently swung between the desire to help the woman -- whom he believed had sent the threat since she was the only other person to use the computer -- and to prove that he had nothing to do with the crime.
In the end, he appears to have elected for the former, going as far as giving a detailed explanation of his motive for the threat. Even after the Osaka and Mie Prefecture online threat cases came to light, senior investigators were confident the man's statements constituted good evidence. He had, however, made up the entire story.
So why would a suspect make a false confession, even building an imaginary story to back it up?
"There's a real problem here with the investigating officers. There's no way that motives for a crime he never committed should be written on his deposition," commented journalist and critic Akihiro Otani. "We must consider that the police led him and threatened him," he added, underscoring the need to record full processes of questioning in all crime cases.