JAPAN: OSAKA DISTRICT COURT HANDS DOWN DEATH SENTENCE FOR MURDER OF ELDERLY COUPLE
June 27, 2013: A 46 year old man was sentenced to death by the Osaka District Court for the gruesome killing of an elderly couple in Izumi back in 2004. Katsuaki Suzuki, an ex-construction worker, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, but the three professional and six lay judges who make up the panel said that he was undeniably responsible for the crime.
74 year old Kenji Asai and his wife, 73 year old Kiyo, were attacked with a blunt object in their home on December 3, 2004. Suzuki then stole the coupleâ€™s car and a luxury watch, later selling the latter to a pawn shop. He then put the corpses in metal drums, which were discovered in Osaka Prefectureâ€™s city of Hannan five years later. His defense team argued that there was insufficient proof that their client committed the crimes, and that the prosecutors were not even able to produce the murder weapon, or identify when and where the killings took place.
Presiding Judge Yasushi Hatayama however said that they â€śclearly recognizedâ€ť that Suzuki was the only one involved in the robbery-murder. His DNA was detected in the place where the drums were eventually found.
What makes it worse is that he continued to lead a â€śnormal lifeâ€ť after stuffing the bodies in the drums. â€śIt was an inhuman crime that leaves no room for leniency,â€ť the judge added.
In a news conference after the verdict was read, the lay judges said they had a thorough deliberation before reaching the decision. One said that she was frightened at the weight of the sentence they were handing down, while another would have wanted to hear more from the defendant to understand how he could have done what he did. This is the 20th death sentence issued in a lay judge trial since 2009, when the trial system was introduced. (Sources: japandailypress.com, 27/06/2013)