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Sunday, October 4, 1998 Published at 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Japan poison arrests

Police in Japan have detained a married couple in the first arrests linked to a series of notorious poisoning cases.

Japanese television showed live pictures as about 200 police officers swooped on the couple's home in the western city of Wakayama.

They are accused of attempting to kill a man last year by lacing his food with arsenic and then profiting from an insurance scam while he recovered in hospital.

Four people died and more than 60 were taken to hospital in another poisoning case in Wakayama earlier this year.

There have been a spate of similar incidents across Japan.

The couple, Masumi Hayashi 37, and her husband, Kenji Hayashi, 53, were taken away for questioning while officers searched their home.

Following tip-offs that the couple were under suspicion a media circus had set up camp outside the home to wait for the arrests.

Ten media helicopters were hovering above the site when police arrived to carry out the arrests.

The couple are alleged to have taken out an insurance policy on the man they subsequently poisoned. While the victim was in hospital the couple are said to have received an $11,800 pay-out.

In a separate case of alleged insurance fraud, Mr Hayashi is suspected of having conspired with his wife to file a false insurance claim for a burn injury.

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