A 25-year-old man on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to fatally abusing the two-year-old daughter of his 22-year-old girlfriend at their apartment in Sapporo last year.
According to the indictment read at the Sapporo District Court, Kazuya Fujiwara and his girlfriend Rina Ikeda repeatedly abused her 2-year-old daughter Kotori between late May and June 5, 2019, local media reported. The abuse of Kotori occurred despite a child welfare official interviewing her mother in 2018 following a tip and a police officer meeting with the mother and the girl in mid-May, 2019.
Prosecutors say Ikeda called an ambulance around 5 a.m. on June 5, saying her daughter was ill. Kotori showed no vital signs while she was being taken to a hospital.
Prosecutors say Kotori had not been fed properly and could have been regularly abused as multiple bruises and cigarette burns were found on her body. She weighed less than 10 kilograms, about half the average weight of a girl of her age.
In September 2018, a child consultation center received a tip that Kotori was being left extensively at a daycare and may have been neglected. But it concluded there was no neglect after a worker met with the girl and her mother at their home. The girl appeared to have been very attached to her mother at that time, according to officials.
But the center received another tip from neighbors in April 2019 that the child was constantly screaming and crying but it was unable to meet or contact the mother.
A police officer then met with Kotori and her mother on May 15 and found a wound on her face and a bandage on her foot, but the wound did not appear serious enough to suspect abuse, police said. Ikeda had said the wound was the result of Kotori's tripping over, they said.
Prosecutors say Kotori was subjected to serious physical abuse after the meeting with the police officer as fresh bruises were found at the time of her death.
Kotori’s mother is being tried separately. A verdict in Fujiwara’s case is expected on Nov 2.© Japan Today/Kyodo