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Japanese man accused in grisly slaying of Japanese tourists in Philippines

Hiroyuki Nagahama
Police in the Philippines have accused Hiroyuki Nagahama in the killing of two Japanese tourists in May (Fuji News Network)

PHILIPPINES (TR) – Local police have arrested a Japanese man in the brutal murder of two male Japanese tourists during a sightseeing trip last month in the western province of Palawan, reports Sankei Shimbun (June 5).

On June 4, police filed murder charges against Hiroyuki Nagahama, 55, as the mastermind in the killing of Yoshihiro Arai, a 24-year-old resident of Ibaraki Prefecture, and Masaru Itani, a 59-year-old native of Osaka, in the town of Culion on May 30.

According to authorities, Nagahama ordered members of a gang known as Commando Brotherhood to shoot Arai and Itani on the island of West Galoc before dumping their bodies into the sea.

Nagahama, also a native of Osaka, denies the allegations. “I didn’t do it!” the suspect screamed before a Fuji News Network (June 6) camera. “Listen to me!”

Police have also arrested five members of the gang, including Michael Suangco, a boat operator, for either carrying out the crime or serving as a witness.

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (June 6), both victims were reported missing on May 30. Witnesses have stated that the gang members cut up the bodies of the victims before disposal in the open water. “We threw them, piece by piece, into the water,” said Suangco, who added that one of the suspects threatened to kill him if he did not help load the body parts on his boat.

“Possible links with the yakuza”

Jose Alvarez, the governor of Palawan, has revealed that insurance money was possibly a motive for the crime. According to the governor, police found evidence that life insurance policies had been taken out in the names of both victims.

Gabriel Lopez, the chief of police of Palawan, said at a press conference on June 5 that his agency was investigating whether Nagahama has ties to organized crime in Japan. “He [Nagahama] was not satisfied with just killing the victims that he even ordered the boat sunk,” Lopez said. “We are coordinating with other agencies to establish possible links with the yakuza.”

Nagahama is a regular visitor to Palawan, having set up a number of restaurants in the town of El Nido and Coron, according to police.