The Supreme Court upheld the death penalty Friday for a former gangster who killed two people in two separate cases in 2000.
Since defendant Ryoji Goto, 49, confessed in October 2005 to his involvement in three other murders after he appealed to the final court against a lower court-issued death sentence for the two murder cases, his lawyers have demanded he be retried.
The top court's 2nd petty bench dismissed his appeal, finalizing the death sentence.
According to the lower court ruling, Goto, a former senior member of an underworld syndicate, conspired with another former gangster who has been imprisoned for life, in killing a 33-year-old male acquaintance by dumping him in a river in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, in July 2000.
In August that year, Goto conspired with five others to confine four people, including a 24-year-old woman, in an apartment in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, due to trouble within the gang. He then killed the woman by injecting her with a large amount of stimulants and injured the other three.
Of the three cases for which Goto filed a petition with the Ibaraki Prefectural Police, one in which a 67-year-old company president was killed for insurance money has been confirmed and backed up by evidence. Goto was subsequently indicted in the case in February, but the other two remain unconfirmed.
The murder-for-insurance case occurred between the two incidents for which Goto was sentenced to death, leading his lawyers to say that he should therefore be retried.
Aside from Goto, three family members of the victim have been sentenced from 13 to 15 years in prison.
Ex-gang boss loses bid to escape gallows
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the death sentence for a former gang leader convicted in two separate murders in 2000, finalizing the state's decision to execute Ryoji Goto, 49.
In rejecting Goto's appeal, Presiding Justice Osamu Tsuno of the top court's Second Petty Bench ruled that the accused bore extremely grave responsibility in the two slayings. He said the court had no choice but to uphold the death sentences handed down by lower courts.
According to the ruling, Goto bound a male acquaintance's hands together in July 2000 and tossed the man into a river from a bridge in Mito, where the victim drowned.
Then on Aug. 20 that year, Goto injected four people with amphetamines at a friend's home in Utsunomiya, which resulted in the death of a 24-year-old woman, a restaurant worker.
Goto also stabbed the other three in the chest with scissors.
Goto, a former crime group boss, was sentenced to death in February 2003 by the Utsunomiya District Court in connection with two murder cases.
His appeal was rejected by the Tokyo High Court in July 2004.
After he was sentenced to death by lower courts, Goto confessed to his involvement in three other slayings in a letter he gave to his lawyer to give to police in October 2005.
Based on Goto's confession, the Ibaraki prefectural police indicted him in one of the three cases in February this year. The case concerned the death of a 67-year-old man to obtain insurance money.
Four other people, including three of the victim's family members, were also indicted in the case.
Goto's alleged involvement in a third murder case is to be tried at the Mito District Court.
No matter what the court decides in the third case, Goto is destined to be hanged.(IHT/Asahi: September 29,2007)