The Supreme Court has upheld Kazuyoshi Miura’s conviction by two lower courts of conspiracy to kill his wife in a 1981 attempted murder case, making it likely that the 51-year-old businessman will return to prison, it was learned Friday.
The top court decision comes in the wake of a Tokyo High Court ruling in July, in which Miura was acquitted of masterminding the fatal shooting three months later of his wife, Kazumi, in Los Angeles.
Miura, who had been in prison since 1985, was released after the high court ruling, while prosecutors appealed the shooting case to the top court.
With the Supreme Court decision on the attempted murder case, prosecution authorities are expected to launch a procedure that would put Miura back in prison, because he has yet to serve out the term handed down by the lower courts.
Miura has 26 months to go before completing the six-year term handed down to him for the attempted murder. The incident began in August 1981, when Miura and his wife were staying in Los Angeles. Kazumi, then 28, was assaulted by a woman at a Los Angeles hotel and suffered a minor head injury.
In November that year, Kazumi was shot in a parking lot in the city and fell into a coma, while Miura, who was with his wife, was shot in the left leg. Kazumi was brought back to Japan, where she died a year later without ever regaining consciousness.
Japanese police investigated the case as both murder and attempted murder masterminded by Miura, who tried to collect 163 million yen from a life insurance policy on Kazumi.
Miura was arrested in 1985 on an attempted murder charge over the August 1981 assault case, and was indicted in 1988 on a murder charge in the November 1981 shooting case.
The Tokyo District Court and Tokyo High Court found Miura guilty of attempted murder and sentenced him to six years in prison, and Miura appealed the ruling to the top court.
The woman held responsible for attacking Kazumi at the Los Angeles hotel, by hitting her in the head with a hammer, admitted that she conspired with Miura to commit the crime. She was later sentenced to prison for her involvement in the case and has already served out her term.
Miura continued to deny his involvement, claiming that the woman’s testimony was inconsistent. He also claimed that the high court proceedings violated his rights under the Constitution because his demand to have the woman questioned further was turned down.
However, the Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ ruling that the woman’s accounts were backed up by evidence.
The top court ruling will become final if no objections are raised within three days of the decision being conveyed to the accused, or if the objections are turned down. After that, the prosecution is expected to launch the procedure to take Miura into custody again.
A lawyer for Miura said the Supreme Court’s decision does not appear to have reached his client because he was not at home. He added that he will consult with Miura and others and decide on a course of action by Monday.
In the November 1981 shooting case, Miura was sentenced by the district court to life in prison. But the Tokyo High Court overturned the ruling and acquitted him in July, citing lack of evidence.
Even though the high court concluded that Miura had the intention to kill Kazumi, it noted that nothing had been determined about the shooter.
A man who was portrayed by prosecutors as Kazumi’s killer was acquitted both in the district court and high court rulings.
After the July ruling by the high court in the murder case, prosecutors appealed the ruling to the top court. Prosecutors will now focus on rebuilding their case against Miura in the upcoming top court proceedings on the murder case.
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