• Kyodo

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A 51-year-old moneylender pleaded not guilty Friday before the Urawa District Court to six charges related to an alleged murder-for-insurance plot that killed two and left one in hospital.

“I haven’t even seen or touched the bodies,” said Shigeru Yagi, from Honjo in Saitama Prefecture, denying charges that he masterminded the killings and fraud for which he and three women stand accused.

The women, who also appeared before the court the same day to face similar charges, pleaded guilty and told the court that Yagi played the central role in the events.

The three are Analie Sato Kawamura, a 35-year-old Filipino, Mayumi Take, 33, and Takako Morita, 39.

Yagi’s mistress, Take, told the court in tears Friday: “I did unforgivable things out of fear I would be abandoned by him if I had refused to (cooperate with him). I feel so sad after hearing (Yagi) plead not guilty.”

Morita also confirmed the accuracy of the indictment to the judges.

The Urawa District Public Prosecutor’s Office said the four had Akira Morita, whom Takako married allegedly at Yagi’s urging, take excessive doses of cold medicine and sake almost every day beginning in August 1998, resulting in his death of pneumonia at 61 on May 29, 1999.

Acetaminophen, a major ingredient of cold medicine with pain-killing and temperature-reducing effects, has the side effect of compromising the immune system and leaving the consumer susceptible to infection.

The four also allegedly had Shuichi Sato, Kawamura’s first husband, eat a sweet-bean “ampan” bun laced with a fatal amount of monkshood herb at Sato’s house in Honjo, north of Tokyo, on June 3, 1995, the prosecutors said.

Yagi and three others then allegedly dumped Sato’s body in the Tone River.

The four reportedly claimed 300 million yen in life insurance for Sato, which was paid to Kawamura the same month.

All defendants except Morita are also accused of the attempted murder of Fujimi Kawamura, whom Analie Kawamura married after her first husband’s death.

Beginning in July 1998, soon after Analie Kawamura married Fujimi Kawamura, the defendants allegedly tried to kill the husband using the same method that killed Morita, prosecutors said. Kawamura was admitted to a hospital the day after Morita’s death.

Prosecutors believe Yagi masterminded a string of incidents by taking out insurance policies worth 1.4 billion yen in total on Sato, Morita and Kawamura. They failed to collect the money in all except Sato’s case.

Prosecutors charged them with forging documents in bogus marriages — the Moritas in May 1997 and Analie and Kawamura in July 1998.

The last charge on Yagi was injuring a Mainichi Shimbun reporter during an interview on March 8, 2000.

The four were arrested March 24 the same year.

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