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Shizuoka: Man handed 7-year prison term in connection with death of woman

SHIZUOKA (TR) – A court last month handed a 43-year-old man a seven-year prison term for kidnapping and abandoning the body of a 29-year-old female nurse in a mountainous area of Hamamatsu City last year, reports Kyodo News (Feb. 15).

At the Hamamatsu branch of the Shizuoka District Court on February 15, presiding judge Naoyuki Yamada said Mitsuru Suzuki played “a crucial role in a thoroughly planned crime.”

According to the indictment, Suzuki and Motoki Ito, 28, worked together to abduct Mayuko Uchiyama, 29, from a parking lot of a gym in Hamamatsu on the night of May 26. They then dumped her body along a mountain road.

During the trial, the prosecution sought a 10-year term. The defense countered by saying Suzuki played a minor role in the crime in asking for a lesser sentence.

Mitsuru Suzuki
Mitsuru Suzuki (Twitter)

The mastermind committed suicide

During questioning by police, Suzuki and Ito said that they were not acquainted with the victim or one another prior to the crime. They said that they responded to a message about a money-making opportunity posted on a yami (underground) site.

According to police, Toyofumi Akutagawa, a 39-year-old native of Niigata Prefecture, was the mastermind behind the crime. In June, police said that Akutagawa was found dead inside a hotel in Niigata City, Niigata. Though the cause of death was not revealed, police said at the time that the case was being ruled as a suicide.

In September, prosecutors dropped murder charges against Suzuki and Ito. No reason was given. However, sources close to the case said that Suzuki denied the allegations. Meanwhile, Ito remained silent.

Ito was already sentenced to a four-year prison term.

Three days after Uchiyama went missing on May 26, her family lodged a missing persons report with police. On June 9, a search team looking for Uchiyama found the body later confirmed to belong to her along a mountain road in the Setonoya area of Fujieda.

The ruling indicated that Suzuki, Ito and Akutagawa wanted to carry out an extortion plot in kidnapping and confining Uchiyama. However, the suicide of Akutagawa has caused details of the matter to remain unknown.