• Kyodo

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Masumi Hayashi, a former insurance saleswoman on trial for murder in the 1998 Wakayama curry poisonings, swallowed nails inside a detention house here last week in what appears to have been a suicide attempt, it was learned Monday.

Hayashi, 38, suffered minor injuries to her throat, sources close to the case said. She swallowed three 3-cm nails and a length of steel wire at around 8:30 p.m. Friday in front of a security guard.

She was admitted to a nearby hospital, where doctors took out two of the nails, which Hayashi is believed to have removed from a broom in her cell, they said.

Hayashi has already been sent back to the detention house and was transferred to a cell under stricter observation, they said.

Hayashi has told her lawyer that she did not mean to kill herself, but refused to give any other reason for why she swallowed the nails, the sources said. The incident happened one day after she appeared in the latest session of her trial in the Wakayama District Court.

Hayashi is accused of mixing arsenic in curry that was served at a summer festival in Wakayama’s Sonobe district, killing four people and leaving many others ill. She is being tried before the Wakayama District Court.

She is also on trial for other attempted murders involving arsenic, including that of her husband, Kenji, as well as for insurance fraud, a charge for which her husband also stands accused.