U.S. sailor ordered to pay Japanese murder victim’s family $593,000
Stars and Stripes September 24, 2010
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — U.S. Navy Seaman Olatunbosun Ugbogu owes the family of the taxi driver he murdered two years ago about $593,000 — a sum that could ultimately come out of taxpayer pockets.
On Wednesday, Yokohama District Court Judge Akiko Kawamoto ordered Ugbogu, 24, to pay about 50 million yen to the family of Masaaki Takahashi, whom Ugbogu was earlier found guilty of slaying in Yokosuka with a kitchen knife in April 2008.
Ugbogu, a former USS Cowpens sailor, is currently serving a sentence of life in prison with labor, handed down by a Japanese court in July 2009.
Ugbogu had hailed Takahashi’s taxi at Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station and rode to Yokosuka’s Shioiri neighborhood. He then stabbed Takahashi to death and took his money, according to court testimony.
Ugbogu said during his murder trial that he was ordered to kill the driver by voices in his head, a claim the court dismissed.
Two of Takahashi’s family members filed suit for compensation in February, an official at the district court’s Yokosuka branch told Stars and Stripes on Friday.
Ugbogu, a Nigerian national, also testified in 2009 that his family was not wealthy, and that part of his Navy paycheck went to his mother.
If Ugbogu cannot pay the court-ordered compensation, the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement states that both the U.S. and Japanese governments can be held responsible for claims against U.S. servicemembers.
U.S. Forces Japan officials could not immediately provide details Friday afternoon on the SOFA claims process.
While in Japanese prison, Ugbogu is officially retained on active duty in a no-pay status, according to Navy records.
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.