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Prosecutors do not appeal innocent verdict for ex-yakuza over confessed killings

TOKYO (TR) – Prosecutors on Thursday did appeal an innocent ruling for a former gangster, who is currently on death row, over two killings for which he confessed, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 27).

At the Tokyo District Court on December 13, Osamu Yano, a 70-year-old former head of the Yano Mutsumi-kai, a one-time affiliate gang of the Sumiyoshi-kai, was found innocent in the killings of two men in separate cases two decades ago.

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

Sources with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office revealed earlier in the week to NHK (Dec. 26) that an appeal would not be pursued in the case due to the fact that assembling “new evidence to establish guilt will be difficult.”

Thursday was the deadline by which an appeal must be lodged in the case. However, since such an appeal was not made, the innocent verdict stands. A non-appeal of an innocent verdict in a murder case is rare, the sources said.

Osamu Yano confessed to killing Mamoru Saito
Osamu Yano (left) confessed to killing Mamoru Saito (Twitter)

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.

Money problems

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.