• Kyodo

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The Chiba District Court on Monday sentenced a man to death and two others to life imprisonment over the deaths of four people in 2004 following a split in a billing fraud ring to which the defendants and their victims belonged.

Presiding Judge Takanori Hikosaka gave the death sentence to Reo Ito, 32, and sentenced Shinya Ata, 29, and Teruyuki Sagiya, 27, to life imprisonment. They are among 18 people indicted over the incident.

Prosecutors indicted the three on charges of conspiring with group leader Taishi Shimizu, 27, who is also on trial, and others to confine four members of the ring in a building in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, and murder three of them by beating them with baseball bats and pouring hot water on them in October 2004.

The prosecutors also indicted the three for causing the death of the fourth victim as a result of the assault, although they did not bring a murder charge in his case.

The defendants buried the bodies in a vacant lot in Ibaraki Prefecture, the prosecutors said.

They demanded capital punishment for Ito and Ata and life imprisonment for Sagiya.

They have also demanded the death sentence for Shimizu and another man, who are to be ruled on later.

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