Page last updated at 05:37 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 06:37 UK

Japan executes death row inmates


Japan has executed three death row inmates convicted of murder - the country's first hangings in six months.

One killed two women; another used the internet to find victims considering suicide; the third was from China and killed three Chinese people.

Before this, the last executions were carried out in January.

The latest convicts to be executed were Japanese nationals Hiroshi Maeue, 40, and Yukio Yamaji, 25, and 41-year-old Chinese national Chen Detong.

Maeue, executed in Osaka, killed three people in 2005 after he met them through an internet website for people planning to commit suicide.

Yamaji, also executed in Osaka, raped and then stabbed to death two sisters in 2005.

Chen was executed in Tokyo for killing three of his compatriots and injuring three more in Kawasaki, southwest of Tokyo, in 1999.

The death penalty receives widespread support in Japan, but the executions are regularly criticised by the European Union and anti-death penalty campaign groups.

Correction 6 August 2009: An earlier version of this story incorrectly implied that the convicted men's trials were held under a new "lay jury" system that combined citizens and professionals to decide on serious criminal cases. In fact the sentences were passed before the new system had been implemented.

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