National / Crime & Legal

Death penalty sought for man over 2014 deaths of two people who were buried alive in Saga

Kyodo

Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded the death penalty for a man who allegedly murdered a man and a woman by burying them alive in the city of Saga in 2014 in an attempt to avoid paying back a debt.

Teruyoshi Oho, 69, is alleged to have suffocated Ra Si Chan, a 76-year-old South Korean national, and his associate Chie Matsushiro, 48, by burying them in their car in a hole 5 meters deep, according to the indictment. Oho’s defense team reiterated that he is innocent of the charges.

Oho, a former president of a soil treatment company, had been urged by Chan to pay back some ¥40 million ($356,000) he had borrowed from him, the prosecutors said in their closing argument at the Saga District Court.

“It was a well-planned crime based on a strong intention to kill him,” the prosecutors said, pointing to the fact that Oho had asked his employees to dig the hole before the alleged murders in August 2014. There is no special circumstance that should allow him to avoid capital punishment, they added.

Oho has kept silent since his arrest in September 2015, including during his trial that began last month. His defense lawyers pleaded not guilty on his behalf.

“The hole was for dumping industrial waste. His debt was not a valid reason for the killings while the cause of death is not known,” they said.

The district court is scheduled to hand down its ruling on Aug. 6.