• Kyodo

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A court in Sao Paulo has issued a ruling recognizing that the statute of limitations has expired on a case against a Japanese-Brazilian woman accused of negligence resulting in the death of a Japanese toddler in a car crash in October 2005 in Japan.

The latest decision, dated Monday and confirmed by the Japanese Consulate General, came in the wake of an appeal by Patricia Fujimoto, 39, against a guilty ruling given by a lower court in August.

Fujimoto left Japan for Brazil immediately after the accident and was subsequently indicted in line with a request by Tokyo seeking punishment for an offender outside the country. She has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said they were checking what the court said but added that they cannot appeal a ruling on a case after the statute of limitations has expired. The ruling could become final for Fujimoto, leaving her exempt from punishment.

Fujimoto ignored a red light at a crossing while driving a car in Kosai, Shizuoka Prefecture on Oct. 17, 2005, and collided with a car driven by Rie Yamaoka, 48, injuring Yamaoka and killing her 2-year-old daughter Riko, the lower court said.

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