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A death sentence was reduced Tuesday for a man who killed two children and injured another in a burglary in 2001 in southern Hokkaido.

The Sapporo High Court instead sentenced Kazuyuki Oikawa to life in prison.

Oikawa, 26, was convicted of fatally stabbing two siblings, aged 2 and 5, and injuring another, 7, in August 2001 while robbing a house in Hiroo. He had appealed the death sentence handed down by the Obihiro branch of the Kushiro District Court in March 2002.

Presiding Judge Ichiro Nakasone said in the high court ruling: “The lower court ruling was too heavy and was inappropriate. . . . The crime was not planned and was impulsive. The defendant turned himself in and feels remorse, so there is ample ground for reform.”