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18-yr prison term sought for locksmith over killing of journalist.

TOKYO, March 1 Kyodo

Prosecutors demanded 18 years in prison Tuesday for a locksmith charged with killing freelance journalist Satoru Someya, who was planning to publish a book which might have hurt the locksmith's public image.

The deliberations on the case were concluded at the Tokyo District Court with the defense counsel requesting a lenient sentence. The court said it will hand down a ruling to Keizo Sakurai, 43, on April 18.

Sakurai, conspiring with his accomplices, confined Someya, 38, in a condominium in Tokyo and elsewhere on Sep. 6, 2003, after he had money trouble over the book Someya previously wrote which advertised Sakurai's locks, according to the closing documents.

They stabbed the journalist to death early in the morning the following day on a boat in Tokyo Bay as they thought the book he was preparing to publish would hurt the locksmith's reputation.

''The crime is extremely cruel and brutal, taking time in killing (Someya) to make him feel the horror of death for a long time,'' the prosecutors said as they demanded the sentence.

The accomplices include diver Yoshihiro Kumamoto, 32, who is on trial separately.

Someya, who reported for various magazines and wrote under the pen name of Kuragaki Kashiwabara, covered the activities of criminal gangs in Tokyo's Kabukicho red-light district as well as the lock industry amid an outbreak of lock-picking burglaries in Tokyo and other parts of Japan.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Mar 7, 2005
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