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Contract Killings


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Kazuyoshi Miura,accused of conspiring to have his wife killed

Kazuyoshi Miura, 61, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before 5 a.m. on a flight from Saipan that stopped in Guam and Honolulu.Miura was arrested in February while visiting Saipan, a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific, after cold case detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department worked with authorities there. He was arrested on a 1988 Los Angeles County warrant alleging murder and conspiracy, but the murder charge has been dropped.It was the first time Miura had set foot in the continental United States since the warrant was issued, police Detective Rick Jackson said."He was very cooperative," Jackson said."I was happy to see him in person. I had never seen him in person before," said Jackson, a member of the LAPD's cold-case squad. "It was a good feeling because you wait 20 years to take someone into custody."Miura was taken onto the plane in handcuffs but those were removed when the plane had taken off, Japanese television reporter Misako Yamamoto said.
Miura was booked into jail and is being held without bail. He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder and could face 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.Miura was accused of plotting to have his wife killed during a visit the couple made to Los Angeles in 1981. They were shot on Nov. 18 as they stood taking photos by a downtown parking lot. Miura was hit in the leg, and his wife, Kazumi Miura, 28, was shot in the head. She died of her wounds a year later in Japan.The incident caused an international furor because it reinforced Japanese stereotypes of violence in the U.S. at a time when the city was preparing for the 1984 Olympics and was particularly sensitive about its overseas image.
Miura, a clothing importer who traveled regularly to the U.S., had said he would write then-President Ronald Reagan and then-Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. and urge them to make the city safer.But Los Angeles County prosecutors contended Miura wanted his wife dead so he could collect about $750,000 on her life insurance policies.
They argued that he signaled someone to shoot the couple, although no one else has been charged.After the 1988 arrest warrant was issued, prosecutors in Los Angeles decided to work with Japanese authorities instead of trying to have him extradited. He was convicted of murder in Japan in 1994 but the verdict ultimately was overturned and Japan's highest court issued an acquittal.On Sept. 26, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Steven Van Sicklen in Torrance ruled although the conspiracy case against Miura could proceed, trying him for murder in California would violate a law against double jeopardy.Several Japanese journalists accompanied Miura on the flight from Saipan. The case has attracted extensive media attention in Japan, where it was dubbed the "Japanese O.J. case."Miura had fought extradition but agreed to return to Los Angeles after the murder charge was dismissed — although conviction on either charge would carry the same sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. Jackson and other authorities arrived in Saipan Tuesday to arrange for Miura's extradition."We carry the torch for the victim," Jackson said.Jackson said that during the investigation he spent time with the mother of Miura's wife in Japan.
"We went out and visted the grave as a matter of respect with her mother," he said. "That's what moves us to keep working on these cases after many years."
On Thursday, county prosecutors filed court papers seeking reinstatement of the murder charge. The 25-page motion argued that the law did not recognize convictions or acquittals outside of the United States.

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