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Man gets 7 years in jail for kidnapping woman who was later found dead

A court sentenced a 43-year-old man to seven years in prison Friday on kidnapping and other charges in a case where a woman was abducted and later found dead in central Japan last year.
Mitsuru Suzuki is the second man convicted in the case but the murder charge had been dropped against them after a third man, believed to be the mastermind of the attack, committed suicide, making it difficult for prosecutors to pursue the case.
The Hamamatsu branch of the Shizuoka District Court ruled that Suzuki, in conspiracy with the two other men he became acquainted with online, buried the body of Mayuko Uchiyama, a 29-year-old nurse, on a mountain on May 27 after kidnapping her in her car the previous day at a parking lot outside a gym in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture.
In giving the sentence, Presiding Judge Naoyuki Yamada said the men had "randomly targeted a woman with whom they had no connection" and recognized that Suzuki had played a crucial role in the "thoroughly planned crime."
The prosecutors had sought a 10-year prison term, while the defense called for a lenient sentence, saying Suzuki had only played a subordinate role.
The first man convicted in the case, Motoki Ito, 28, is currently serving a four-year prison term.
Both Suzuki and Ito were convicted of conspiring with the third man, who was 39 when he committed suicide last June in Niigata after the crime came to light. On the man's instructions, Suzuki and Ito forced their way into Uchiyama's car and drove off in it, along with the victim and the man.
Uchiyama's body was found buried on a mountain in the Shizuoka city of Fujieda on June 9. The three men are believed to have attempted to extort money through her kidnapping and confinement, but details of their motive remain unknown due to the suspected mastermind's suicide.
The three men got to know each other through an internet message board where the third man allegedly wrote about "profitable" work, and they met in person for the first time on the day of the attack.


© KYODO
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