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Police Search Japan Suspect Home

October 5, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ Police today searched the home of a Japanese woman accused of poisoning a man to collect his life insurance, in a case that could be linked to an arsenic poisoning that killed four people and sickened dozens of others.

Masumi Hayashi, a 37-year-old former insurance saleswoman, was arrested Sunday in the state of Wakayama on suspicion of serving the man arsenic-laced food in September 1997. The man spent nearly five months in a hospital before his release in January.

Hayashi’s husband Kenji, 53, has been arrested in a separate insurance scam. The couple has denied the charges, according to police sources quoted by national broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News agency.

In July, four people died and sixty people fell ill after eating curry tainted with arsenic served at a festival in the city of Wakayama.

No arrests have been made in connection with the incident, but the Kyodo News agency quoted unidentified police sources as saying Masumi Hayashi was assigned to monitor the curry pots at the festival.

The curry poisoning was big news in Japan, where such killings are rare. The crime triggered a rash of copycat poisonings around the country, which led to one death and sickened several other people.

Wakayama is 280 miles southwest of Tokyo.

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