Bali man gets 15 years for murdering Japanese couple

Indonesian defendant I Putu Astawa, 25, walks into a court in Denpasar on March 26, 2018, before being sentenced to 15 years in jail for stabbing an elderly Japanese couple to death during a botched burglary. PHOTO: AFP

DENPASAR, INDONESIA (AFP) - A Bali court Monday (March 26) sentenced a man to 15 years in prison for killing an elderly Japanese couple on the Indonesian holiday island last year.

I Putu Astawa, a 25-year-old driver, was found guilty of the murders of Nurio Matsuba and his wife Hiroko - both in their seventies - at their home in Jimbaran, a resort area in southern Bali.

"The defendant has been beyond reasonable doubt guilty of committing burglary which caused the loss of other people's lives," presiding judge I Wayan Sukanila told the Denpasar District Court.

The victims' bodies were found burned beyond recognition on Sept 4, a day after the murder was committed by Astawa.

He sneaked into the couple's house after noticing the front gate was open, the court heard.

He tied up and gagged Hiroko, who was killed first, before killing her husband using a knife he found at the front door.

Astawa stole 110,000 yen (S$1,370) and two mobile phones before leaving the house using the couple's car.

Later in the evening, Astawa returned to the house and set the bodies alight with gasoline and a lighter, the court heard.

He used the stolen money to repay debts and pay rent.

Two weeks later, Astawa surrendered to a police post and became the only suspect in the murders.

Astawa's lawyer IB Alit Yoga Maheswara said his client had accepted the conviction and would not appeal the sentence, which is the maximum possible for violent robbery leading to death.

The victims had lived in Bali for seven years, where the husband was a broker in a tuna export company, according to police.

Bali is a popular tourist destination known for its tropical climate and palm-fringed beaches.

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