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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Asian Beauty:Natsuko.S | 2 men get life, 2 youths get lengthy terms over brutal killing of high school girl

Two men accused of murdering and robbing a 17-year-old high school girl were handed life imprisonment sentences in the Chiba District Court on Wednesday, while two 17-year-olds involved in the crime were ordered to spend 13 and 14 years behind bars.
The four, including Yoshihito Saito, 21, a resident of Mobara, Chiba Prefecture, and a 22-year-old unemployed man of no fixed address, were sentenced over the killing of second-year high school student Kaori Takanaka.
In handing down the sentences, the court described the actions of the four as cruel and cold-hearted.
"They ignored the personality and the dignity of the victim. It was a selfish, cruel and cold-hearted crime in which they killed the victim," the presiding judge said in handing down the ruling.
The four were convicted of stealing a bag from Takanaka and a classmate near JR Mobara Station in the predawn hours of Dec. 22 last year, then abducting Takanaka in a vehicle and dragged her to a disused building in Togane where they strangled her with an electric cord and dumped her body in a freezer.
While the four admitted to the allegations against them, their lawyers said that the murders and the robberies did not occur consecutively and argued that the four should face separate charges of murder and robbery, instead of the more serious single charge of robbery and murder.
However, the presiding judge rejected the argument, saying that a close relationship between the killing and the robbery could be accepted.
"One of the youths knew Takanaka and fearing that their robbery would be exposed the four killed her to silence her," the judge said.
Another 19-year-old youth who was also indicted over the crime was found dead in prison on Oct. 14, after he committed suicide, and the Chiba District Court decided to withdraw the charges against him.


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