• Kyodo

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The Yokohama District Court on Tuesday sentenced a former weightlifting champion to 14 years in prison for murdering his 26-year-old girlfriend after learning that she was pregnant.

Yosuke Yamashita, 23, of Nagoya’s Nakamura Ward received the sentence for murdering sports instructor Chika Fukuda of Sunomata, Gifu Prefecture, dismembering her body and dumping the body parts in different locations.

Prosecutors had demanded an 18-year sentence for the former university student.

According to the court, Yamashita strangled Fukuda on the second floor of the tavern operated by his mother in Nagoya’s Nishi Ward around midnight on July 10, 1999 — days after learning she was pregnant.

Some body parts were found in a forest in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, and the head, arms and legs were found in Nagoya port and its nearby river, the court was told.

The defendant argued during the trial that although he had choked her, he had not intended to kill her.

Yamashita and Fukuda became friends through weightlifting competitions. Yamashita won the 1997 all-Japan student championship in the 75-kg class and Fukuda placed third in the 1998 national bench-press contest for the 56-kg class.

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