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The Yokohama District Court sentenced a former part-time worker at a transportation firm to life in prison Monday for raping, robbing and killing a junior college student in 1998.

Judge Masaoki Iwadare said Manabu Itagaki’s crime was “heinous and cruel.”

According to the court, Itagaki attacked Akiko Miyakawa, 18, from behind and raped her in a field in a residential area of Yokohama’s Hodogaya Ward on the night of Aug. 14, 1998. He strangled her with a towel, stole her handbag, which contained 9,000 yen in cash and a mobile phone, and left her body in the field, the court said.

Itagaki, 30, also raped and attempted to kill another woman in Yokohama’s Tsurumi Ward on June 29, 1998, it said.

Iwadare said the gravity of Itagaki’s crimes was extremely close to meriting the death penalty. Prosecutors had demanded only life in prison.

Critics of the current Penal Code are calling on revisions that would effectively deny convicted criminals serving life terms the chance of parole, given the recent surge in heinous crimes.

Should such legislation be enacted, Itagaki’s case should be handled under such revised laws, the judge said.

Dad tossed tot in rage

SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) Shizuoka Prefectural Police arrested a 26-year-old man Monday for allegedly tossing his 2-year-old son out of a second-floor window in a fit of rage.

Hiroyuki Ikeda, an unemployed man residing in Shimizu, was arrested for attempted murder.

According to local police, Ikeda attempted to kill his son, Takayuki, by throwing him over the handrail of the veranda of his apartment to the ground some 4.8 meters below at around 8:30 p.m. Sunday evening.

The toddler hit his head on the ground but sustained only minor injuries, probably because the patch of ground he fell on was covered with shrubs, police said. The boy was to undergo detailed medical examinations later Monday, they added.

Ikeda reportedly told police he became angry because the boy would not stop crying, but he denied trying to kill his son. The suspect, divorced in March, was living with the boy and his father, who apparently had no time to intervene, police said.

Neighbors called police after hearing a loud thud. The boy was crying loudly and blood covered the area around his mouth, investigators said.

Girl held over killing

OSAKA — A 17-year-old girl was arrested Monday on suspicion of killing a toddler by tossing her from the fifth-floor window of a school for handicapped children in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, police said.

The girl, whose name is being withheld under the Juvenile Law, told police that she does not like the school, Shohaku Gakuen, and had thought she would be able to leave if she did something wrong, police said, adding that the girl has a mental disability.

The victim, Rikana Koba, 3, was found dead on the school grounds on Aug. 18.

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