Death sentence to stand in ’95 murders, robbery

Kyodo News

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Friday by a South Korean man sentenced to hang for killing two people and robbing one of them in 1995 in Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures, a move that finalizes his penalty.

Presiding Justice Ryoji Nakagawa upheld lower court sentences on Pak Il Gwang, 59, who exercised his right to remain silent during the police investigation and pleaded not guilty in the trial.

Nakagawa concluded that Pak “murdered a woman he previously had a relationship with because he got angry with her marrying another man, and stabbed a taxi driver to death because of a lack of money when he was on the run.”

“There is no room for leniency in his motivation and the crimes, conducted in less than 20 days, were well-planned and cruel. The next of kin are hoping for a harsh punishment and the death penalty cannot be avoided,” Nakagawa said at the top court’s No. 2 petty bench.

The finalization of Pak’s death sentence will bring the total number of inmates on death row in Japan to 97.

Pak’s defense counsel argued the DNA analysis of bloodstains on the victims’ clothes as well as those found at the crime scenes that linked Pak to the murders “was not reliable.”

Pak was convicted of stabbing to death Harumi Fujiwara, 41, at a bar in Nagoya on Jan. 12, 1995, and then killing a 59-year-old driver of a taxi he took in Fukuoka on Jan. 28, 1995, when he was on the run. He also robbed the cabby of several thousand yen.

The Fukuoka District Court sentenced him to death, and the Fukuoka High Court upheld the verdict.

Extradition sought

Japan will seek the extradition of a South Korean man who is in custody in connection with the strangling of a woman in Tokyo 2 1/2 years ago, police sources said.

Kim Sang Ho, 47, was placed in custody in South Korea in late September on suspicion of killing Mitsuyo Fujihara, 69, a hotel employee, in her residence, which was on the second floor of a pachinko prize buyer’s office in Shinagawa Ward, in April 2004, the sources said.

An investigation determined that Kim broke into Fujihara’s dwelling and strangled her with his hands on April 10 or 11.

Japanese police identified Kim from DNA tests carried out on skin found at the scene and placed him on an international wanted list through Interpol.

Kim left Japan immediately after the murder, the sources said.

Japan has concluded extradition pacts with the United States and South Korea.