​Vietnam urges Japan to bring suspect in murder of Vietnamese girl to trial

​Vietnam urges Japan to bring suspect in murder of Vietnamese girl to trial

Yasumasa Shibuya, the prime suspect in the murder of nine-year-old Vietnamese girl Le Thi Nhat Linh in Chiba, Japan in April 2017. Photo: Kyodo

Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Nguyen Quoc Cuong has urged Japan’s authorities to soon conclude investigation into the death of Vietnamese girl Le Thi Nhat Linh and bring the prime suspect to trial.

Ambassador Cuong met with Shigeki Takizaki, director general of the Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department under Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Friday to discuss issues concerning the girl’s murder.

Linh was nine years old when she was found dead on March 26, 2017 near a drainage ditch in a field in Abiko, a city in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, according to The Japan Times.

Police later identified local resident Yasumasa Shibuya, 46, as the prime suspect in Linh’s death after discovering her DNA and hair in his car.

The man was indicted in May 2017, but his refusal to confess to the allegations has caused pretrial investigation to last until today.

At Friday’s meeting, Ambassador Cuong informed the Japanese foreign ministry representative of ongoing collection of signatures by Linh’s family at home and abroad to appeal to the Chiba court to hand down the death penalty to suspect.

The case, Cuong noted, has attracted widespread public attention in Vietnam and overseas.

A photo of Vietnamese girl Le Thi Nhat Linh before her death in April 2017. Courtesy of Linh’s family
A photo of Vietnamese girl Le Thi Nhat Linh before her death in April 2017. Courtesy of Linh’s family

The Vietnamese ambassador therefore urged that Japan’s law enforcement soon wrap up investigation into Linh’s death and collect enough evidence to bring the suspect to a public trial and hand down an appropriate sentence pursuant to Japanese laws should he be found guilty.

In reply, Takizaki expressed his sympathy to Linh’s family and informed the ambassador that relevant agencies were making urgent preparations to bring the case to court in the nearest possible time.

Takizaki further elaborated on the judicial independence stipulated by Japan’s Constitution, and expressed his hope for an early trial and that the culprit would receive the punishment he deserved.

Linh’s family has the Embassy on their side

The same day, Ambassador Cuong paid a visit to Linh’s family in Chiba and stressed that the Vietnamese Embassy would continue to work to protect the legitimate interests of the family.

He said embassy officials had kept regular contact with Japanese law enforcement so that they could be constantly updated on developments surrounding the case and to ensure protection of Vietnamese citizens in Japan.

According to the Chiba prefecture court, the date for the trial will be decided after the conclusion of investigations and dossier preparations, which is scheduled on March 5.

Under Japan’s law, evidence collection can last for about eight months if the suspect confesses to his crime and 12 months if they refuses to do so.

Le Anh Hao, father of Le Thi Nhat Linh, carries a sign on a street in Japan calling for signatures to pressure the court into handing down the death penalty for the culprit in his daughter’s murder in this photo posted by his wife on Facebook.
Le Anh Hao, father of Le Thi Nhat Linh, carries a sign on a street in Japan calling for signatures to pressure the court into handing down the death penalty for the culprit in his daughter’s murder in this photo posted by his wife on Facebook.

Linh’s father Le Anh Hao expressed his hope for an early and fair trial so that similar crimes would be prevented in the future.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the House of Councilors have also extended their sympathies to Linh’s family over her death on earlier occasions.

Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Kunio Umeda visited Linh’s family at their hometown in the northern province of Hung Yen last year and offered his prayers to the ill-fated girl over her grave.

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