• Kyodo


An eight-year sentence for a woman convicted of playing a role in the fatal abuse of her two children was increased Tuesday to 12 years by the Hiroshima High Court.

Presiding Judge Toshikazu Obuchi overturned an earlier ruling by the Hiroshima District Court that Mitsuko Segawa, 30, did not intend to kill her children.

The district court found Segawa guilty of colluding with her 32-year-old boyfriend, Kenichi Takao, in the death of her 6-year-old son, Yoshiki, and 4-year-old daughter, Shoko.

Segawa and Takao were found guilty of suffocating the boy by putting him in a plastic bag and sealing it in September 1999.

The girl died from loss of blood in October 1999 after a beating by Takao that Segawa did not try to stop, according to the district court.

The high court upheld the prosecutors’ appeal that the district court decision was too lenient. The prosecutors had demanded a 15-year prison term for Segawa.

Obuchi said Segawa was guilty of murder through willful negligence in the death of her son by leaving him in the sealed plastic bag.

“The son was in an extremely weak physical condition after being exposed to abuse (by Segawa and Takao), and it was easily predictable that the boy would die” if kept in a sealed bag, the judge said.

Segawa’s lawyers had argued that she was in a state of diminished responsibility due to violence inflicted on her by Takao.

Obuchi acknowledged that Segawa suffered at the hands of her boyfriend — but not to the point of diminishing her mental competence.

Last month, the Hiroshima High Court also determined that Takao had intent to kill Segawa’s son and sent his case back to the district court for further deliberations.

Takao, who had earlier received a 15-year sentence by the district court, has appealed the high court decision to the Supreme Court.

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