The Tokyo District Court on Monday ordered the government to pay 66.8 million yen in compensation to the family of a University of Tokyo employee who was fatally poisoned in 1990.
Ryoichi Nakamura, 38, a technical official at the state-run university’s Faculty of Medicine, drank poisoned tea prepared by a colleague at the Animal Center for Biomedical Research in mid-December 1990 and died in February 1991, the court said.
Masahiro Ito killed Nakamura by putting about 10 times the lethal dose of thallium acetate in the tea, and was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the crime in December 1995.
Presiding Judge Manabu Yamana said Nakamura’s death could have been prevented if his superior had paid more attention to the bad blood between the men.
In April 1990, about eight months before the incident, Nakamura found white powder in a container where he kept coffee beans and told his superior that Ito may have put it there. The powder was found to contain thallium crystals.
The judge suggested that had Nakamura’s superior looked into the incident and taken proper measures, the death could have been prevented.
Nakamura’s family had demanded about 100 million yen in compensation from the government.
The university issued a statement the same day, saying it is “very regrettable” that its explanations were not acknowledged by the court.
The school said it would decide on any further action after studying the ruling and holding discussions with relevant parties.
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