• Kyodo

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The Sendai High Court on Tuesday overturned a not-guilty ruling in a robbery-murder in 2002 and sentenced the 66-year-old defendant to life imprisonment.

Kazuo Koiwa was convicted of killing Kiyo Tsushima, 81, in the city of Aomori in May 2002 and withdrawing some 3.6 million yen from her bank account.

The Aomori District Court last April found Koiwa not guilty of murder, citing an absence of significant evidence, but sentenced him to 42 months in prison for stealing the victim’s money.

In overthrowing the district court decision, presiding Judge Ryoichi Tanaka of the high court supported the prosecutors’ argument that circumstantial evidence — a fiber found on Koiwa’s vest that was identical to that of the victim’s shirt — points to Koiwa as the killer.

Judge Tanaka also determined that Koiwa had destroyed evidence in the murder.

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