• Kyodo

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The husband of a woman accused of the 1998 curry-poisoning murders in Wakayama testified Wednesday that there was no arsenic kept at their home that could have been used to kill people.

Kenji Hayashi, 56, who is serving a six-year prison term for fraud, appeared as a defense witness at the trial of Masumi Hayashi, 39, at the Wakayama District Court and said he did not take any arsenic back to their residence in the Sonobe district of Wakayama.

He said that after he quit his business as a termite exterminator in 1992 he gave his stock of arsenic to his wife’s brother. He also said it was unlikely that his wife or any other person brought arsenic to the house, countering prosecution claims that Masumi Hayashi killed four people with curry mixed with arsenic from the house.

Asked about arsenic that was detected in a milk can in the garage of their former house in Wakayama, Kenji Hayashi told the court he did not know it was there but said management of the house was sloppy and the garage was not locked.

Regarding the charge that his wife attempted to kill him by lacing his food with arsenic in February 1997, Kenji Hayashi said he knows nothing about it.

Motive is one of the main points at issue in Masumi Hayashi’s trial, with her defense team trying to disprove the claim that she committed the murders after being upset by neighboring housewives’ attitudes toward her.

It is the first time that the Hayashi couple have faced each other since April 2000, when Masumi Hayashi testified in her husband’s trial.

He told the court, “I am worried about my children, but I am more concerned about Masumi.”

The local court in Wakayama sentenced him on Oct. 20 to six years in prison for swindling insurance firms out of 160 million yen for accidents he and his wife claimed they suffered from 1993 through 1997.

Masumi Hayashi is on trial for murder and attempted murder for allegedly mixing arsenic in curry served at a community summer festival in the Sonobe district on July 25, 1998, killing four people and leaving 63 others ill.

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