Osaka High Court upholds death
sentence on five-time killer
March 27, 2002
The Osaka High Court on Tuesday upheld
a March 1999 Osaka District Court ruling that sentenced a 60-year-old
unemployed man to death for murdering four women and an elementary
school girl between 1985 and 1994.
Yasutoshi Kamata was guilty of ''cruel
and inhuman crimes'' that deserve capital punishment, Presiding Judge
Hiroshi Fukushima said in handing down the sentence.
Kamata has pleaded not guilty, saying
police forced him to confess to the killings. His defense counsel said
he is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Kamata abducted 9-year-old Kumiko
Tsujikado on a road in Osaka and strangling her at his home in the city
in January 1987, the ruling said.
He also strangled Fusae Azuma, 46, in
May 1985, Midori Chinen, 19, in June that year, Kazue Suda, 45, in July
1993, and Kimiko Nakano, 38, in March 1994, according to the ruling. The
court said Kamata killed the four elder victims for financial reasons.
He was also convicted of mutilating
the bodies of Suda and Nakano and dumping them in the mountains in
northern Osaka Prefecture.
Tuesday's high court ruling found
Kamata also guilty of a charge of demanding a ransom of 30 million yen
from Tsujikado's father and the girl's elementary school.
Previously, the district court had
found him not guilty on that charge, citing the possibility that someone
else took advantage of the kidnapping case to demand the money.
Kamata was born in 1940 and he lived in
Osaka's Nishinari Ward at the time of the first
Kamata's first murder took place in May 1985 when he
allegedly strangled a housewife, Fusae Azuma, 46, in Osaka's Nishinari
Ward. According to prosecutors, Kamata murdered the homemaker, of Joto
Ward, Osaka, after quarreling with her.
In June the same year, he allegedly killed 19-year-old
Midori Chinen, who had disappeared two months earlier while on her way
to work at a home for the mentally handicapped in Tondabayashi, Osaka
Prefecture. Kamata allegedly strangled this one in the same ward.
In January 1987, Kamata allegedly murdered Kumiko
Tsujikado, a third-year primary school student of Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka,
after luring her to his apartment. He then allegedly pretended the girl
was still alive and telephoned her school to demand a 30 million yen
It's here that the murders stopped for a while. You
see poor Kamata was caught thieving and imprisoned on two separate
occasions. But as the saying goes, you can't keep a good man down.
In July 1993, about four months after finishing the
second sentence, he allegedly strangled Kazue Suda, 45, a bar employee
of Nishinari Ward, Osaka. In March the following year, he allegedly
strangled 37-year-old Kimiko Nakano, a waitress of Chuo Ward, Osaka.
Prosecutors claimed Kamata murdered the women because
he was pissed off by their requests for a loan. In an attempt to keep
the bodies from discovery Kamata chopped up the remains of Wada and
Nakano and disposed of them in the mountains.
But he got unlucky, he was caught not long afterwards.
Kamata allegedly confessed to all the five murders during investigation
but later denied any knowledge of the crimes and pleaded not guilty
during the first hearing in March 1996.
The court admitted the testimony of a voice
identification expert who said the voice of the person who made the
ransom demand by telephone to Tsujikado's school was different from that
of the suspect. But this wasn't enough for his release.
Oddly the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office
took the rare step of treating three of the murders separately from the
remaining two, and demanded the death penalty for both sets of murders.
The prosecution said the string of murders which Kamata is accused of
merits the unusual demand because his was ''a brutal and atrocious case
rarely seen in the annals of crime in our country.''
The prosecution told Presiding Judge Nobuyuki Yokota
that Kamata has ''a strong antisocial tendency and that there is no room
for correction,'' adding the families of the victims sought the most
The Wacky World of Murder