• Kyodo

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An American man held over the death of a female Japanese acquaintance will not be charged with murder but with abandoning her body.

The Yokohama District Court on Monday heard that the prosecutor in the case against Gregory Gumo, 41, has decided on the lesser charge because the victim may still have been alive when Gumo allegedly dumped her in the sea.

The body of Mariko Akitaya, 42, was found floating in a bay south of Tokyo tied to pieces of concrete. She had been wrapped in a sheet.

Although the prosecutor has not ruled out trying Gumo for murder at a later date, Monday’s move means he is unlikely to face such a charge, a lawyer of the defendant said.

Akitaya was a contract employee from Tokyo’s Meguro Ward.

She was found in Koajiro Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture. Prosecutors believe Gumo dumped her there on July 28 after believing she had died. Her body was found floating 20 to 30 meters offshore the following day.

The prosecutor said traces of a narcotic drug were found in her body, which could have knocked her out when combined with prescription medicines she was taking.

The prosecutor will continue to pursue charges against Gumo for the illegal disposal of a body.

Gumo remained silent when asked to comment on the charges at the hearing Monday. The prosecutor, on the other hand, alleged that the two had trouble in their relationship.

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