• Kyodo

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A married couple from Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture, received prison terms Thursday for fatally assaulting their 3-year-old son in February.

The Maebashi District Court sentenced Shiro Shimauchi, 26, to seven years in prison and Miyuki Shimauchi, 28, to 6 1/2 years.

Presiding Judge Yasuhiro Kuga said the defendants “kept abusing their little son, who was powerless to fight back.”

However, Kuga also said in his ruling that the young couple did not get proper support from the people around them.

“Both defendants had been abused by their parents, and thus they came from circumstances that made it likely they would abuse their child. (The abuse) could have been avoided if (the people around them) had known” their histories.

On the night of Feb. 7, the couple beat their son, Heki, in the head and stomach with a mop handle and forced him to kneel for two hours naked in a bathtub of cold water. The boy was eventually taken to a hospital, where he died.

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