JAKARTA - A Yakuza group boss issued a threat to a judge after a trial that sentenced him to death for ordering the killing and attacks on residents.
Satoru Nomura, 74, head of the Yakuza Kudo-kai group which has about 220 active members, denied allegations that he was behind the horrific crime.
The Fukuoka District Court confirmed it had sentenced Nomura to death, however, Japanese media said there was a lack of evidence directly linking him to the crime.
"I ask for a fair decision. You will regret this for the rest of your life", Nomura told the judge after the verdict was read, as quoted by Sky News from the Nishinippon Shimbun, Thursday, August 26.
The Kudo-kai is the largest Yakuza mafia in the Kitakyushu area and is known for its military-style approach, using machine guns and hand grenades in its activities.
The yakuza, or gangsters as they are commonly known, have long been tolerated in Japan as a necessary crime, to ensure order on the streets. However, the crackdown on gangs, together with waning social tolerance and a weak economy have resulted in a decline in the number of Yakuza.
"The criminal acts (of Nomura) are very cruel, and the death penalty is unavoidable", Presiding Judge Ben Adachi said in his ruling.
This is believed to be the first-ever death sentence handed down against a Yakuza leader, predicting it could have an impact on police investigations into criminal gangs in the future.
Nomura was found guilty of ordering the fatal shooting of the former boss of a fishing cooperative, major news outlets report. He is also said to be behind a 2014 attack on a relative of a murder victim, as well as a 2013 knife attack on a nurse at a clinic where Nomura sought treatment.
The Yakuza boss is also accused of being behind the 2012 shooting of a former police official investigating the Kudo-kai. The victim survived, but with serious injuries to the waist and legs.
Meanwhile, Fumio Tanoue, Nomura's number two in the Kudo-kai, was jailed for life on Tuesday.
To note, unlike the Italian mafia or Chinese triads, the Yakuza are not illegal and each group has its own headquarters known to the police. Japan is one of the last countries in the developed world to retain the death penalty and has more than 100 death row inmates.
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