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The widow of a self-made billionaire and best-selling author from Wakayama who dubbed himself the “Don Juan of Kishu” was indicted by prosecutors Wednesday for his murder in 2018.

The decision to indict 25-year-old Saki Sudo for the murder of her husband, 77-year-old Kosuke Nozaki, a real estate mogul and liquor sales company owner, came despite a lack of clear evidence that she committed the crime and no confession. She has also been charged with violating the stimulant drug control law.

Attention now turns to how the prosecution will attempt to prove its case.

On the evening of May 24, 2018, Nozaki was found dead at his Wakayama home, three months after marrying the then-22-year-old Sudo, who described herself as a fashion model. Nozaki achieved brief notoriety in 2016 when, in his autobiography, he dubbed himself the Don Juan of the Wakayama area, saying he’d given ¥3 billion to 4,000 women.

Two years later, he met Sudo. In marrying her, he promised to provide her with a ¥1 million monthly allowance.

Sudo had reportedly been alone with Nozaki for at least four hours when he collapsed after dinner and died. An autopsy discovered stimulant drugs in his system, and police believe that neither Sudo nor Nozaki were regular drug users. Suicide was ruled out, and the amount of drugs found in Nozaki’s system led police to believe an accidental overdose was unlikely.

His death became a national media sensation. But a lack of witnesses, no clear evidence that Sudo did it and her denials meant no arrest was made in the days after his death.

Kosuke Nozaki's house in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture | KYODO
Kosuke Nozaki’s house in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture | KYODO

However, police suspected that Sudo had poisoned Nozaki in the hope of gaining some of his fortune. While the exact value of his estate is unknown, Tanabe city said Nozaki had been planning to give his property, valued at ¥1.3 billion, to the city. Sudo would have gotten a portion of the estate as a whole.

The case saw little progress for three years. But in January this year, a weekly tabloid magazine reported that Sudo had plans to move to Dubai, and this may have been the reason police decided to move against her.

She was arrested on April 28 without charge and held for questioning. Under the law, suspects can be held for up to 23 days before being formally prosecuted or released — Wednesday marked the 23rd day of her detention.

Local media reports said that Sudo had initially denied the murder after her arrest and then went silent. Prosecutors will now have to convince a jury that, despite the lack of physical evidence and witnesses, Sudo had the means, motive and opportunity to kill Nozaki.

So far, their investigation has only shown that Sudo researched stimulants online before Nozaki’s death, and she is believed to have met with a drug dealer.

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