• Kyodo

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The Fukushima District Court’s Koriyama branch sentenced a 57-year-old man to death Thursday for two murders in Fukushima Prefecture in 2001, one of which was for insurance money.

The court said Minoru Watanabe played a lead role in the murders, for which five others have already been convicted, dismissing his claim that the others were the main culprits.

“The defendant is antisocial and cruel, as he did not hesitate to take people’s lives for money,” presiding Judge Kiyohiro Tanaka said, adding rehabilitation would be unlikely.

The judge said Watanabe masterminded the crimes, but the defendant blamed his accomplices.

Watanabe was convicted of killing Miyoko Nakajima, 77, by driving into her in June 2001 in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and collecting some 2.3 million yen from an insurance policy on her.

The court also convicted him of killing Katsushige Umino, 63, in the town of Miharu in September 2001. Umino was initially part of the Nakajima murder plot but later backed out. Watanabe also stole money from Umino.

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