• Kyodo

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Two Chinese men pleaded guilty here Tuesday to the murder of a family of four in Fukuoka Prefecture in June 2003.

“I drew up the murder plan, and was involved in the killing of three of the four people,” Yang Ning, 24, told the court in Liaoyang, Liaoning Province.

Yang is on trial with Wang Liang, 22.

He later said he “deeply regretted” what he had done.

Wang got down on his hands and knees and tearfully apologized three times in Japanese to the bereaved families in the courtroom.

The two, both former students in Japan, went back to China soon after the murder case made headlines in Japan.

Prosecutors have told the court that the crime was “vicious, its method cruel,” adding that the actions of the two “brought about grave consequences.”

The trial concluded later in the day, following normal procedure in China for criminal cases in which there are no points of contention between prosecutors and the defense.

Prosecutors demanded “severe penalties” for the two, and the court could hand down a death penalty within 15 days, according to sources familiar with the case.

The prosecutors said the murders not only had an extremely negative effect on other Chinese students in Japan, but also tarnished “the friendship between the two nations.”

The trial is being held 14 months after the two men were arrested in August 2003, and about three months after their indictment.

In a rare move, Chinese authorities have allowed members of the Japanese media to cover the hearing. Japanese interpretation was provided until the prosecutors finished their opening statement.

An alleged accomplice, 24-year-old Wei Wei, a former student at a Japanese-language school in Japan, was tracked down in Japan by the police and is now on trial at the Fukuoka District Court.

According to the charges leveled against Wei, the three suspects killed Shinjiro Matsumoto, a 41-year-old clothing dealer, his wife, 40-year-old Chika, their son Kai, 11, and daughter Hina, 8, and stole money in the early hours of June 20.

The bodies of the four were found in Hakata Bay, handcuffed and weighted down with dumbbells.

Wei and Yang allegedly killed Chika by pushing her head underwater while she was taking a bath. The pair, together with Wang, allegedly killed Kai by smothering him with a pillow.

Shinjiro was choked with a tie, and Hina was also strangled, according to the charges.

On Tuesday, Yang told the court that he thought he “had no choice” but to kill the 8-year-old girl because she had seen his face.

But when it came to the question of who was involved in dumping the girl’s body, Wang told the court that it was Yang and Wei. Yang meanwhile maintained that it was Wang and Wei.

The statements of the three suspects also clash regarding the issue of responsibility.

Ryoshichi Umezu, Chika’s father, testified before the court in the afternoon. He brought with him a photograph of the murdered family and placed it facing toward the defendants.

He read out a letter in which he described the sadness and anger of losing his loved ones.

After the trial, Umezu said that no apology could lessen the gravity of the crime.

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