Man arrested for lacing former employee’s tobacco with mercury over pay dispute

Kyodo

A 36-year-old man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of trying to kill an acquaintance with heat-not-burn tobacco laced with mercury. Investigation sources said Thursday it was due to a problem regarding pay.

On June 3 last year, Takashi Miyawaki of Otsu in Shiga Prefecture allegedly gave the tainted product to the 37-year-old male acquaintance.

The sources quoted the victim as saying that Miyawaki had not fully paid his salary when the incident happened.

The man, who ended up using 14 of the 20 cartridges in the pack, was rushed to a hospital the following day after suffering from headaches, coughing and slurred speech. He reported the incident to the police on June 5, telling investigators he had developed the symptoms after consuming the tobacco he had been given.

Miyawaki has admitted to the charge of attempted murder, telling the police he added 0.3 to 0.5 grams of mercury to each of the 20 cartridges in the pack. Investigators detected mercury in the victim’s urine and blood samples as well as the remaining cartridges, the police said.

They suspect Miyawaki used a device to inject mercury into each of the cartridges without opening the package.

Miyawaki and the man came to know each other through a mutual acquaintance about three years ago, and the man had worked at a mobile phone repair company run by the suspect. The company is no longer in business.