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Tokyo court holds second appeals hearing over Blackman's death

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Prosecutors sought again Thursday to prove that a man killed a British bar hostess whose dismembered body was found in a cave near Tokyo, in a second appeal hearing in the high-profile case.

Joji Obara, a wealthy former property developer in his mid-50s, was sentenced by the Tokyo District Court to life in prison in April 2007 for raping nine women including one who died, Australian Carita Ridgway.

The lower court said there was insufficient evidence to prove he killed Briton Lucie Blackman -- like Ridgway a 21-year-old bar hostess.

Both sides appealed the verdict. Obara wants an acquittal over the deaths of Blackman and Ridgway, and less severe punishment for the rapes.

Prosecutors are seeking his conviction in Blackman's death, alleging that Obara used chloroform on her -- which could have led to her death.

The district court had ruled that Obara -- who has denied all charges -- was responsible for Ridgway's death by giving her chloroform, a colorless drug used as an anesthetic in the 19th century.

"Chloroform is a risky material because it could lead to death easily from the state of anesthesia," Noriaki Ikeda, a professor at Kyushu University, testified.

Defense lawyers said chloroform was not detected in Blackman's dismembered body.

But Ikeda dismissed that. "When a body is abandoned for six months or more and dismembered to bleed, it is normal that the drug is not detected," he said.

Ikeda did acknowledge that since Blackman's head was buried in concrete, it might have been possible for signs of chloroform to remain.

Blackman vanished in July 2000 while she was working in bars in Roppongi. Her dismembered body was found seven months later in a seaside cave.

The case triggered a storm of media coverage in Britain and even a personal appeal by then prime minister Tony Blair.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 17.

© Wire reports

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

7 Comments
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It is good to see that they are still trying to pin this guy to the wall for these horrendous crimes. Reading the crime section of JT, it is rather easy to get depressed about the way things are heading in this country. It is also rather easy to loose track of cases like this one. Let's hope that this time they get a guilty verdict.

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I thought the Japanese police just torture the suspect into signing a confession. So the conviction rate in Japan stands at ~97%.

Why hasn't this guy gotten similiar treatment?

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I thought the Japanese police just torture the suspect into signing a confession

You thought wrong. But don't let me stop ya.

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faulkmore:

Joji Obara, a ["wealthy"] former property developer in his mid-50s,

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Why would a wealthy former property develop in his mid-50s do something like this? I'm a foreigner and think there's something very disturbing about this case. In the U.S. when you hear of cases like this, it's usually people who are poor, uneducated, stupid, and have abnormal childhood history (ie death of parents). How could someone like this guy do something like this??

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He was doing it for years...A serial screw up. They will not prosocute him because there is a "lack of evidence" jcops screwed that one up... and a small problem of the case involving a Foreign victim. I am British and angry at this #$&%. When a Chinese woman killed some guy down south and ran upto Tokyo she "hid" near my station, I counted 7 helicopters, 17 cars and many foot plodders... Yet When a British citizen is killed the local jcops can't even catch a barefoot man (suppose how much of a head start they gave him) or collect evidence properly from a rich real estate guy. The silly Truckers.

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They women he raped and the two he murdered were either foreign or working as hostesses or both - which means, as far as the Japanese middles classes are concerned, that they were fair game for rich perverts like Obara.

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