'Black Widow' sentenced to death in Japan


Japanese widow Chisako Kakehi was sentenced to hang on Tuesday by Kyoto District Court, after being convicted for murdering her husband and two other lovers, plus the attempted murder of a fourth man.

The court ruled that Chisako Kakehi is guilty in all four cases, which took place in three western prefectures.

Chisako is accused of using the deadly poison cyanide to kill her lovers.

Judge Ayako Nakagawa called it "a heinous crime driven by greed for money". "I will laugh it off and die if I am sentenced to death tomorrow", she was reported as saying.

Cyanide was hidden in a plant pot owned by Kakehi. She said her husband treated her unfairly when it came to finances, giving more money to a woman he previously dated than to her.

Prosecutors said she killed the men after they made her the beneficiary of life assurance policies that ran into millions of dollars.

Prosecutors maintained that in all four cases, the victims were tricked into drinking cyanide given by a debt-ridden Kakehi, who was seeking to inherit their assets.

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Kakehi's lawyers have filed an appeal, and if Kakehi's sentence is upheld, it could be a long time before her execution.

Her defence argued that Kakehi was not criminally liable because she had suffered from dementia - an argument rejected by the judge. The doctor who made the diagnosis, however, said Kekehi could be held legally responsible for any crimes committed during that time.

In the case's first public hearing, Kakehi said she would leave everything to her lawyers, but her statements during proceedings lacked coherence, including a stunning confession that she had killed her husband in 2013.

Poison was found in the body of at least two men she was involved with, and police reportedly found traces of cyanide in rubbish at Kakchi's home.

Her first husband died in 1994 and the business later went bust, prompting her to take out massive loans.

Kakehi later registered with a matchmaking service, specifically asking to meet wealthy men with an annual income of more than 10 million yen ($87,900).

She had subsequently lost a good part of his fortune in financial investments risky, and had been arrested in November 2014.