• Kyodo

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A 22-year-old Chinese ex-student in Japan was sentenced to life Friday for murdering a woman in Osaka in December 2001 and killing a man regarded as a father figure for foreign students and wounding his wife during a robbery the following month in Oita Prefecture.

The Oita District Court also sentenced Kim Min Su, a 29-year-old South Korean, to life and Chinese accomplice An Fengchun, 26, to 14 years for their roles in the slaying of the Oita man, Satoshi Yoshino, a 73-year-old owner of a construction company in Yamaga, and the wounding of Yoshino’s wife Emiko, 75, on Jan. 18, 2002.

The judge said the 22-year-old escaped capital punishment, the sentence demanded by prosecutors, because he was “19 years old at the time of the crime and was mentally immature.”

Two other suspects in the Oita case — Po Zhe, 24, and Zhang Yue, 26, both from China and believed to be the ringleaders — left Japan four days after the crimes and are on an international wanted list.

Yoshino was stabbed to death as he tried to protect his wife during a robbery.

He was the guarantor in Japan for Zhang and the employer of An, who worked part time at his company. All five were students at Beppu University in the prefecture.

The 22-year-old also conspired with Po on Dec. 26, 2001, in the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old sex-parlor worker after they stole her cash card in a hotel room in Osaka.

Presiding Judge Hiroyoshi Suzuki said the trio did not intend to kill the elderly couple.

The defendants “stole a cash card and tried to get the PIN (from the couple). Had they been murdered, they would not have been able to obtain money,” Suzuki said. “They also did not expect that the elderly couple would put up a resistance.”

Yoshino spent his youth in Japanese-occupied China and returned to Japan after the war. He was known for helping look after foreign students, hoping to reciprocate the kindness he experienced in China.

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