A man waiting on death row for killing three people in 1988 died this week after choking on his meal, sources said Friday.

U Gi Jong, 73, choked on food served at the detention house Thursday and was rushed to a hospital in Hiroshima, where he died of acute heart failure.

U, who was South Korean, was appealing his sentence. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had decided to suspend judicial proceedings because he was considered to be suffering insanity.

He was charged with breaking into house in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, in June 1988 and killing a family of three — a husband, wife and the husband’s mother — with a knife.

Officials at the Hiroshima detention house said U had been receiving medical treatment since suffering a stroke in November 2002.

The Hiroshima High Court upheld his death sentence in 1998. His defense team said he had been in a state of diminished responsibility at the time of the crime. Four psychiatric examinations showed different results, but the courts ruled that he could still be held criminally responsible.

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