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Ex-yakuza on death row for murder found innocent in 2 other confessed killings

TOKYO (TR) – The Tokyo District Court has found a former gangster who is currently on death row for murder innocent in two other killings for which he confessed, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Dec. 13).

On Thursday, presiding judge Hideo Nirei found Osamu Yano, a 69-year-old former head of the Yano Mutsumi-kai, a one-time affiliate gang of the Sumiyoshi-kai, innocent in the killings of two men in separate cases two decades ago.

“The purpose of the confessions was to delay the execution,” the judge said in handing down the ruling.

In April, 2016, Yano confessed to the first killing. He told investigators that he participated in the killing of 60-year-old real estate executive Shizuo Tsugawa over a dispute the gang had with him over a redevelopment project near Isehara Station in Isehara City, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1996. Police using information provided by Yano later found the body of Tsugawa in a mountainous area of Isehara.

Osamu Yano
Osamu Yano confessed to killing two real estate executives in 1996 and 1998 (Twitter)

That November, he also told investigators that the body of Mamoru Saito, 49, also a real estate executive, had been dumped in Saitama Prefecture. A search crew later found human bones in a mountainous area of the town of Tokigawa that were later confirmed to belong to Saito.

Saito went missing after a meeting in the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo’s Toshima Ward on April 5, 1998. According to information released in a court-related report in September of 2014, Yano said Saito was abducted and strangled to death over money problems that included a loan of 86 million yen.

Yano is currently on death row for ordering two members of his gang to carry out a shooting that left four people dead at a “snack” hostess club in Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture on January 25, 2003.