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Miura is suspect in the murder of his wife 27 years ago

By Ferdie de la Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 21, 2008) - The Superior Court yesterday set no bail for Kazuyoshi Miura, a 60-year-old Japanese businessman who was arrested Friday at the Saipan international airport for the murder of his wife in Los Angeles 27 years ago.

Miura was brought to the Superior Court yesterday after the Attorney General’s Office filed an information charging Miura with one count of fugitive from justice.

Associate Judge David A. Wiseman set the preliminary hearing for March 5 at 9:00 a.m. and the arraignment for March 10 at 9:00 a.m.

Wiseman ordered Miura to proceed to the Adult Probation Office to determine whether he is eligible to have a court-appointed counsel.

The judge remanded the defendant back to the custody of the Department of Corrections.

Earlier at the hearing, Wiseman directed Miura to hire his own lawyer after the defendant claimed that his current wife runs a clothing business and that she earns US$30,000 a month.

When the judge asked the wife, Yoshie, about her US$30,000 monthly income, she explained that the amount’s value is different in Japan from Saipan.

Wiseman decided to order the defendant to instead go to the Probation Office, which will determine if he is eligible to get a court-appointed lawyer.

Wiseman said he will set no bail at this time, considering that Miura is facing charges of fugitive from justice in connection with charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder that were filed in California.

At the hearing, chief public defender Adam Hardwicke argued that the arrest was unlawful, citing the absence of an arrest warrant and that the extradition procedures were not being followed, among other things.

But Wiseman only thanked Hardwicke for raising the issue and told him that yesterday was a bail hearing and not a preliminary hearing where that issue might be brought up.

Edward R. Cabrera of the Attorney Generals’ Investigative Unit stated in court documents that Immigration agents detained Miura Friday at 2:00 p.m. as he attempted to depart the CNMI.

In an affidavit supporting Miura’s arrest, Cabrera said that agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency contacted him about the defendant’s case in October 2007.

Cabrera said that ICE agents were told by Los Angeles Police’s Cold Case Unit that Miura would probably be traveling to Saipan in November 2007.

The AGIU officer said an LA detective also asked for CNMI assistance in arresting Miura if he ever comes to Saipan.

The detective then provided AGIU with a copy of the felony complaint as well as a printout from the National Criminal Information Center alleging that Miura was charged with criminal activity in California.

After receiving the information, Cabrera said, he placed an alert in the CNMI Border Management System so that he will be notified if the defendant arrives or attempts to depart from the Commonwealth.

Cabrera said that when he informed LA Police about Miura’s arrest, he was told that they are willing to extradite the defendant to California.

Miura had already been convicted in Japan in 1994 of the murder of his wife, Kazumi Miura. The verdict, however, was overturned by Japan’s high courts 10 years ago.

Miura and his wife (Kazumi) were visiting Los Angeles on November 18, 1981, when they were shot in a parking lot. Miura was reportedly hit in the right leg, while his 28-year-old wife was shot in the head. She later died.

Miura reportedly collected about US$1.4 million at today’s exchange rate on life insurance policies he had taken out on his wife.

A New York Times report said that Japanese consular officials on Sunday interviewed Miura at his cell inside the Department of Corrections in Susupe.

"He seemed in good health, and was receiving a fair treatment," said Kenji Yoshida, one of the two Japanese consuls in Saipan.

"We talked about an hour, but not so much about his past crimes," Yoshida said. "Naturally, he expressed hopes to see his family, and was very anxious to know what may happen to him."

The 1981 shooting caused an international uproar, in part because Miura blamed the attack on robbers, reinforcing Japanese perceptions of America as violent.

"I think U.S. investigators have all along believed that they can make the case with the evidence they had already collected," Tsutomu Sakaguchi, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police investigator at the time of the shooting, told TV Asahi in an interview Sunday. "If they have a new evidence, that could be a decisive step."

The victim’s mother said Sunday that she never gave up hope that the case would be resolved.

"I burned incense for my daughter and prayed at a family Buddhist altar, telling her that Americans will put an end to the case, so let’s hold onto our hopes and wait," Yasuko Sasaki told Japan’s public broadcaster NHK. (With NYT)

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