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Japanese woman on death row for murder chokes to death on prison food

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    A woman on death row choked to death while eating a meal at the Hiroshima Detention House in Hiroshima, Japan.

    Miyuki Ueta, a 49-year-old former bar employee, was found unconscious in her cell on the evening of Jan. 15.

    She was confirmed dead upon arrival at the hospital. According to Japan’s Justice Ministry, Ueta died of suffocation. 

    Ueta reportedly choked while eating prison food at around 4:20 p.m. local time on Saturday. Although Hiroshima detention center staff administered first aid measures, she was later pronounced dead at around 6:55 p.m.

    According to the ministry, the death row prisoner had been on medication for multiple illnesses, and she had collapsed a week earlier.

    Ueta was convicted of robbery and murder for the deaths of two men in the Tottori Prefecture in 2009.

    Her death sentence was finalized in July 2017 when the Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings.

    Ueta reportedly drugged Kazumi Yabe, a 47-year-old truck driver, and drowned him in the sea in April 2009. In October of the same year, she also drugged and drowned Hideki Maruyama, a 57-year-old electronics store owner, in a river. 

    The lower courts found that Ueta was motivated by a desire to avoid paying debts she owed to the victims. 

    The top court said that the defendant bore “grave criminal responsibility” after she carried out the premeditated and “cruel crimes based on firm intentions to kill.”

    However, Ueta maintained her innocence during the trial.

    Maruyama’s son expressed shock following his mother’s death.

    It has been 14 years since my father passed away, and I am surprised that she was executed in this way. I think too much time has passed without an execution since the death sentence was finalized. I join hands with my father at the Buddhist altar at home every day, and I would like to join hands with him again tonight to report on today’s events.

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