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A 52-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for murdering a female acquaintance and mutilating her body in 1999 while on parole from a life term for a murder he committed two decades ago.

According to the court, Kenji Yokota, a former construction worker, strangled Akiko Saga, 21, of Tokyo’s Kita Ward, after a quarrel at his home in Adachi Ward in February 1999. He chopped the body into several parts with a kitchen knife, put them in vinyl bags and dumped them at several locations along the nearby Arakawa River.

Yokota had been on parole for a year, after having served time for a 1978 robbery-murder. At the Saitama District Court, presiding Judge Masaki Hara said Yokota’s responsibility is grave, but not to the extent that warrants capital punishment. Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty.

The judge, noting the accused spent most of his adult life in prison, said, “Although he committed a serious crime just one year after returning to society, (the murder) was an accidental crime triggered by a quarrel with the victim.”

Life for cabby’s death

SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) A 57-year-old man was sentenced Thursday to life in prison and his 65-year-old accomplice to 15 years for killing a female taxi driver in Mishima, Saitama Prefecture, and robbing her of 8.5 million yen.

According to the ruling by the Numazu branch of the Shizuoka District Court, Kunimasa Mano from Shimizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, colluded with Fumio Motoyoshi from Utashinai, Hokkaido, to lure Akemi Watanabe, 40, into a bogus land-investment scheme.

After persuading Watanabe to prepare 8.5 million yen in cash, they killed her in a vehicle while on a road in Numazu on the night of Jan. 17, 2000, and dumped her body in a mountain forest and fled with the cash.

Another man, allegedly the mastermind of the crime, died of disease while in detention at a police station last July.

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