• Kyodo

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A 38-year-old man pleaded guilty Friday to being an accomplice in the kidnapping and murder of a company executive in Shinshiro, Aichi Prefecture.

During his first trial session before the Nagoya District Court, Katsuyuki Kume admitted helping 38-year-old Hiroyuki Goto to kidnap Toshihiro Matsui, 39, for ransom. He also pleaded guilty to helping Goto flee the country after Matsui was slain.

According to police, Matsui, a member of the local junior chamber of commerce, was abducted from the parking lot of the chamber building on the night of April 17, after attending a meeting.

His family received phone calls demanding 100 million yen in ransom, but the money was never handed over because police were unable to determine the drop site when the abductors demanded the cash. Matsui’s body was found April 20, but investigators claim he was strangled soon after being abducted.

According to prosecutors, Goto hatched the plot to abduct Matsui. By late March, Kume, who used to work at Goto’s catering company, was checking the planned ransom drop site with his former employer. Prosecutors said Goto tried to enlist Kume in his plan to abduct someone wealthy, and although Kume initially agreed, he later backed out because it seemed unlikely to succeed and tried not to talk to Goto, even if the latter called him.

However, after the slaying came to light with the discovery of Matsui’s body, Goto asked Kume to aid his escape, getting Kume to fake his former employers’ own kidnapping to this end.

Kume decided to aid Goto’s flight out of fear that his earlier involvement would be found out, prosecutors said.

Kume’s lawyer argued that Kume had tried to back out of the plan every time Goto approached him, and only took part unwillingly in the end.

“(Kume) also had no desire to save himself, as can be seen from the fact that he purchased the cell phone used in the (faked Goto) abduction, using his real name,” the lawyer said.

Kume stands accused of going along with Goto’s plan to fake his former employer’s own abduction so he could flee the country after killing Matsui, even though he knew Goto had committed murder.

Kume made phone calls to Goto’s parents on the night of April 21, claiming he had kidnapped Goto. He later drove Goto from the city of Toyokawa in the prefecture to Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, according to the indictment.

Goto, who will be tried separately, attempted to flee to the Philippines, but was stopped from entering the country by immigration officials at Manila airport, who had been alerted by Japanese investigators.