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Ex-gang boss on death row dies in apparent suicide

  • January 26, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 9:53 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Jan. 26 (Jiji Press)–A former Japanese crime syndicate boss on death row who was acquitted over the murder of two people for which he confessed his involvement after his capital punishment sentence was finalized was found dead at the Tokyo detention center on Sunday morning, Justice Ministry officials said.

The death-row inmate, Osamu Yano, 71, apparently committed suicide, the officials said, noting that there were cuts on both sides of his neck. The ministry is closely investigating circumstances surrounding his death.

This was the first suicide by an inmate with a finalized death sentence in Japan since a 55-year-old death-row inmate detained at a branch of Sapporo prison in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido killed himself by cutting his neck with a razor in November 1999 while he was taking a bath.

According to the ministry’s Correction Bureau, a staff official at the detention center found Yano bleeding from his neck in the bedding in a cell at the facility around 7:47 a.m. Sunday (10:47 p.m. Saturday GMT). A doctor at the detention center confirmed his death at 8:10 a.m.

Yano’s death sentence over cases including a fatal shooting at a bar in Maebashi, the capital of the eastern Japan prefecture of Gunma, in January 2003 became final in March 2014.

In letters submitted to Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department in September 2014 and June 2015, Yano confessed his involvement in the killing of two people, including a company president.

Over the cases, he was arrested in 2017. In a lay judge trial, Tokyo District Court  handed down a not-guilty ruling to Yano in December 2018, concluding that his confession was designed to postpone the execution of his death sentence. The acquittal ruling was finalized later as public prosecutors did not file an appeal.

The eldest daughter of Teruji Okawara, who was killed in the shooting incident at the age of 50, said in a statement: “If Yano committed suicide, he ended up leaving this world while keeping an antisocial will until the last moment, without his capital punishment being carried out. I wanted him to apologize to my father and to us.”

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