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Indonesia

Man held over gruesome murder of elderly Japanese couple in Bali

Investigators, who are not looking for any other suspects, believe the murders were an opportunistic robbery gone wrong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 September, 2017, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 September, 2017, 6:10pm

Indonesian police have arrested a man over the murder of an elderly Japanese couple whose bodies were found burned beyond recognition on the holiday island of Bali.

The scorched corpses of Nurio Matsuba, 76, and his 73-year-old wife Hiroko were discovered on September 4 by their Indonesian foster son in Jimbaran, a resort area in the southern part of the island.

Police detained a 25-year-old Balinese man, identified as I Putu Astawa, for the fatal stabbings early Monday.

Investigators, who are not looking for any other suspects, believe the murders were an opportunistic robbery gone wrong.

“His motive in committing the murder is his debt, Putu owed Rp10 million (US$750). He took a short cut which was theft,” Bali Police spokesman Hengky Widjaja said at a press conference.

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

Later in the evening, Astawa returned to the house and set the bodies alight with petrol and a lighter, police believe.

Widjaja said Astawa entered the Matsuba’s home intending to steal money, but “because the victims fought back, he murdered them”.

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

Bali, a pocket of Hinduism in Muslim-majority Indonesia, is a popular tourist destination known for its tropical climate and palm-fringed beaches.

Petty crime is common on the island, although grisly murders are rare.