• Kyodo


A 21-year-old man was arrested Sunday in connection with the abduction of three Osaka men, two of whom are missing and believed dead, the police said.

A group of around 10 people led by the suspect, Ryuji Kobayashi, allegedly had the three, all aged 21, come to the city of Okayama in the early hours of June 19 and abducted them. They also took the victims’ car. They beat them up, first in the city and then near a funeral hall in Tamano, Okayama Prefecture, before releasing one of them, according to police.

The case came to light Thursday after the man who was released contacted the police. One of the suspects is believed to have had a dispute with one of the missing men over a woman, according to investigators.

Kobayashi turned himself in early Sunday at a police station in Tamano, accompanied by his mother, after the police placed him on a wanted list on suspicion of assault.

Police believe the two missing men were killed after being abducted and taken to an industrial waste disposal site in Okayama.

According to the police, Kobayashi called his mother Friday night and told her that he killed the two, while three other suspects arrested Saturday in connection with the case — all 21-year-old males — were quoted as telling investigators they saw Kobayashi bury the victims.

According to investigators, Kobayashi allegedly told his mother that the missing men said they were gangsters, and he killed them out of fear for his own life if he let them go.

The police are considering obtaining a murder warrant for him.

The other three suspects said they followed Kobayashi’s orders because were afraid he would come after them if they refused to obey his instructions to beat up the victims and stand watch during the assault. Police identified them as Yuta Tokumitsu of the city of Osaka, university student Yuki Sato of Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, and a man from the city of Nara who was ordered to stand watch.

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