• Kyodo


The Nagoya High Court sentenced two men to death Thursday for double murder and robbery in 1994 and 1995, overturning a lower court ruling that sentenced one of them to life imprisonment.

Judge Hiroshi Kojima gave the death sentence to Sadashige Nitta, 61, upholding a 1999 Tsu District Court ruling.

He also sentenced Masuo Yamaguchi, 51, to death. Yamaguchi had received a life term in the lower court ruling, after a retrial ordered by the high court two years before.

The two men were originally sentenced to death in March 1997. However, in September that year, the high court ordered the Tsu District Court to retry the case because the men were represented by the same lawyer despite having a conflict of interest.

In that ruling, the high court determined that selecting the same attorney for two defendants whose claims and interests differ runs counter to the rules for criminal trials.

According to Thursday’s ruling, Nitta, Yamaguchi and three other men stole 1 million yen in cash from the residence of an antique dealer in Yaotsu, Gifu Prefecture, in March 1994, tying up a woman with adhesive tape.

Several days after the robbery, Nitta and Yamaguchi murdered a member of their group, Yoshimasa Nakashima, 43, and dumped his body into a reservoir in the town, the ruling said.

The two were also convicted of murdering Hajime Watanabe, 50, an antique dealer in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, robbing him of 4.3 million yen in cash and dumping his body into the same reservoir in March 1995.

Both prosecutors and the accused had appealed the 1999 district court ruling.

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