• Kyodo

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A member of an underworld group being sought by police in connection with the 1998 murder of a used car dealer in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, has been detained in Russia on charges of entering the country illegally, police sources said Saturday.

The 31-year-old man, who was a senior member of a gang, is wanted by the Kanagawa Prefectural Police on a separate charge of fraud.

Once the man’s identity is confirmed, Kanagawa police plan to ask Russian authorities to hand him over to Japanese officials, the sources said.

Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectural police have been trying to track down the man, who has not been identified, for his suspected role in the death of Junichi Shigeta, president of a used car dealership in Yokohama, whose body was found in Atami port in May 1998.

According to police, Shigata disappeared in February 1998 after he sent an employee to Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, in his car.

Three months later, the body of a man with a bullet wound to his head was found on the bottom of Atami port. He was later identified as Shigeta.

Shigeta was running several used car dealerships and police have obtained information suggesting he was in trouble over a business deal with the former gangster, who had hinted to friends that he had killed Shigeta, according to the police sources.

The Kanagawa police put the former gangster on a wanted list in May 1998 on suspicion of fraudulently obtaining 6 million yen in insurance money by colluding with a car repair shop in 1997 and submitting false documents to claim that a car had been stolen.

The person now in custody in Russia was detained in Vladivostok in late August on suspicion of trying to smuggle himself into the country, the sources said.

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