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Japanese linked to killing of countryman


10:41 PM December 4th, 2012

December 4th, 2012 10:41 PM

DAGUPAN CITY—A Japanese tourist was arrested and charged with murder in Alaminos City on Saturday minutes after he buried a fellow Japanese in a shallow grave in Camantiles Island, one of the islands of the Hundred Islands National Park there.

Supt. Armando Muena, Alaminos police chief, said Mitsuaki Sato, 59, a resident of Saitama, Japan, was arrested by policemen and members of the local Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVO) at 12:30 p.m. as he roamed around the island “as if looking for something.”

The team scoured the island after a resident saw a man digging there while a body lay on the ground nearby.

“Sato tried to mislead the responding team. He said he was looking for his companion,” Muena told the Inquirer on Monday.

But minutes later, a CVO member discovered a newly covered grave in the island and found the body of Tsutomu Hiraga, 54, also of Saitama. Muena said Hiraga’s hands were tied with a rope.

Muena said Sato arrived in the country on Nov. 27 and stayed in Heritage Hotel in Pasay City.

On Nov. 29, Sato arrived in Alaminos City. On Saturday, Hiraga went to Alaminos City to meet Sato. They boarded a motorboat operated by Jeffrey Mirante, 42, and went to Camantiles Island.

Mirante told investigators that while on their way to the island, Hiraga felt dizzy and asked to be taken back to the hotel, but Sato ordered Mirante to proceed to the island.

Muena said Sato had claimed he and Hiraga were business partners in Japan but he later changed his statement and said Hiraga was his lawyer.

He said a murder complaint against Sato was filed in the Alaminos City prosecutor’s office on Monday. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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