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A man who had been given a life prison term for murdering two people for insurance money was sentenced to death Thursday by the Takamatsu High Court.

In overthrowing the earlier district court ruling, presiding Judge Toshio Shima of the high court denounced the crimes by Yoshio Yamazaki, 65, as “premeditated and cruel” and said “there is no reason not to hand down capital punishment.”

According to the court, Yamazaki, in collusion with an acquaintance, took out a life insurance policy on 49-year-old housewife Sachiko Takada and strangled her with a cord at her home in Miyagi Prefecture in November 1985.

By making it look like Takada killed herself, the two successfully obtained a 22 million yen insurance payout.

In a similar murder-for-insurance plot, Yamazaki, together with another friend, fatally bludgeoned Hideaki Yamashita, 48, of Kagawa Prefecture with an iron dumbbell in March 1990.

They dumped Yamashita’s body in a mountain forest in Kochi Prefecture and tried to make his death look accidental. They failed to win an insurance payout over his death because the policy on his life had expired.

Both of the victims were acquaintances of Yamazaki.

The district court did not sentence Yamazaki to death on the grounds that he elected to kill the victims upon the strong urging of his accomplices. It also said he had not yet planned to kill the two when the victims signed the insurance contracts.

But Judge Shima said the district court ruling was inappropriate in that Yamazaki took the initiative in the crimes after agreeing to take part.

Yamazaki’s accomplice in the 1985 case is currently appealing a 13-year prison term handed down by the district court, while the accomplice in the 1990 case is serving an 11-year prison term.

After the ruling, Yamazaki’s lawyer, Teruyoshi Kumakawa, said he will consider whether to file an appeal with the Supreme Court after examining details of the decision.

Suit in student’s killing

URAWA, Saitama Pref. (Kyodo) The parents of a 21-year-old woman who was killed last October in Okegawa, Saitama Prefecture, filed a damages suit Thursday seeking 100 million yen from 17 people arrested for involvement in her defamation and murder.

College student Shiori Ino was stabbed to death by men allegedly acting on the orders of Takeshi Komatsu, the elder brother of a former boyfriend who had been stalking her. The boyfriend was later found dead of an apparent suicide.

Before killing Ino, Komatsu and the others harassed her by distributing flyers defaming her around her house. Four men are on trial on murder and defamation charges.

Claiming that such actions had inflicted psychological pain not only to the victim but her parents, Kenichi Ino, the victim’s father, said, “I want the 17 people to understand the suffering that my daughter had gone through.”

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