• Kyodo


A 54-year-old woman was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for murdering her brother-in-law by setting fire to his home in 1998 in an attempt to cover up a fraud case and obtain life insurance money.

The Kofu District Court delivered the sentence to Tsune Nomura, unemployed. Prosecutors had been demanding a life term.

Handing down the decision, presiding Judge Takehisa Yamamoto told the court that Nomura’s crime was so cruel and premeditated that it would be almost impossible to rehabilitate her.

The judge dismissed the defense counsel’s argument that Nomura was mentally weak at the time, saying the murder was intended to obtain insurance money and that the carefully prepared alibi and other plans show the defendant is not sufficiently mentally weak to be immune from her serious criminal responsibility.

According to the ruling, Nomura defrauded a hotel in Yamanashi Prefecture of some 60 million yen between February and June 1998. In the belief that her brother-in-law, Fumio Yonemura, 48, had detected her crime, she planned to kill him to keep the fraud secret and collect insurance money on a policy in his name, it said.

On the night of Sept. 17, 1998, Nomura had Yonemura eat sleeping-drug-laced “kuzumochi,” a pudding-like, arrowroot cake, to get him to fall asleep before pouring heating oil around his home and setting it on fire to murder him, the ruling said.

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