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Japan executes 3 convicted murderers

JAPAN executed three convicted murderers yesterday, including a man who found his victims on suicide Websites.

Japan, along with the United States, is one of the few industrialized countries that still has capital punishment.

There is little public outcry against the death penalty, but the country has been criticized by rights groups such as Amnesty International and the main Japanese bar association.

Criminals can be left on death row for years, and executions - all carried out by hanging - are highly secretive. Inmates do not know when they will be executed, while lawyers and family are only told after the fact.

Yesterday, Hiroshi Maeue, 40, was hanged at a detention center in Osaka, the justice ministry said in a press release. He was convicted of crimes including three murders in 2005 involving victims who posted messages on Websites about committing suicide.

In each case he convinced his victims - a woman and man in their 20s and a teenage boy - that he wanted to commit suicide with them. He then bound them in his car and repeatedly strangled and revived them until they died.

Yukio Yamaji, 25, was also executed in Osaka, for sexually assaulting and stabbing to death two sisters who lived in the same apartment in 2005.

Chen Detong, 41, was given the death penalty for stabbing to death and robbing three people he lived with in 1999. He was hanged in Tokyo.

The country has now executed seven people this year, including four who were hanged in January.

Amid complaints about its plodding justice system, Japan executed 15 criminals last year - the most since 1975 when 17 people were executed.


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