The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld death sentences for two Chinese men convicted for a 1992 triple murder and robbery at a pachinko parlor in Tama, western Tokyo.

In upholding the sentences against Chen Daiwei, 41, and He Li, 37, presiding Judge Toshihiro Kanatani said, “The accused killed the victims after meticulous planning . . . and the crime was cruel, ruthless and brutal.”

Kanatani said the accused bear grave responsibility for the crime and death is the only appropriate punishment.

According to the Supreme Court, the case is the first in which the top court has finalized death sentences given to foreigners. It is only the second confirmed capital punishment sentence for foreigners — following an earlier case before the Yokohama District Court in which the accused did not appeal the death penalty — since the government started compiling records in 1966.

Chen and He stabbed to death three employees at the pachinko parlor and stole about 2.3 million yen in May 1992, lower courts ruled. Another Chinese, who is believed to have conspired with the two in the murders, is still on an international wanted list.

Chen and He, both from China’s Fujian Province, arrived in Japan in 1988 on student visas. By May 1992, the visas had expired and they were staying in Japan illegally.

The Hachioji branch of the Tokyo District Court sentenced them to death in December 1995, and the Tokyo High Court upheld the sentence in January 1998.

The two filed an appeal with the top court, saying the death penalty was too severe a punishment.

Chen also denied being involved in the physical act of killing the victims, while He said he had no intention to kill the employees.

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