KITAKYUSHU – A woman suspected of confining and murdering her parents, a niece and nephew has effectively admitted to most of the charges against her, but is maintaining that she acted under the orders of a man arrested in connection with the case, her lawyer said Friday.
Junko Ogata, 40, and Futoshi Matsunaga, 41, who had been living together in Kitakyushu, were arrested in March after a teenage girl who had been confined by the couple managed to escape.
A subsequent investigation determined the girl’s father, as well as six of Ogata’s relatives, had vanished after living with the couple. Police suspect they were abused and killed, although no bodies have been found. Ogata and Matsunaga have been served warrants alleging they murdered four of Ogata’s relatives.
According to the lawyer, Ogata said, “none of this would have happened if it were not for Matsunaga,” adding that she had done something she could never undo.
Ogata also told her lawyer that she was scared to disobey Matsunaga, adding that he had administered electric shocks to her.
Both suspects had remained silent during police questioning, but the lawyer’s explanations indicate Ogata has decided to cooperate, which may in turn affect Matsunaga’s position, investigative sources said.
“Although I would like (Matsunaga) to speak the truth, I want to say what I feel in a straightforward manner, regardless of what he might say,” Ogata was quoted as telling her lawyer.
According to the lawyer, Ogata said her 10-year-old niece, Aya, was strangled with an electrical cord and not electrocuted, as alleged in the indictment.
Ogata also said there were attempts to strangle her mother, Shizumi, 58, but that she was not directly involved in that incident.
She acknowledged that her father, Takashige, 61, died after she ran an electric current through him, but maintained that the charge against her should be inflicting injury resulting in death, as she had regularly been shocking him and did not think he would die.
Ogata also said that the other relatives were killed in an ever-expanding effort to conceal each earlier death.
Ogata said she feels she should share some of the blame with Matsunaga.
Matsunaga’s lawyers said there is no change in their client’s position.
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