KUWAIT CITY – The relatives of a freelance journalist slain in Iraq identified his body Sunday, while the body believed to be that of the other journalist is so damaged that identification will take more time, Japanese officials said.
The relatives burned incense beside the body at an air force base in Kuwait after confirming it was that of Kotaro Ogawa, 33, the officials said.
His remains had been airlifted from Baghdad earlier in the day.
Ogawa’s family members did not speak a word. They just sobbed and touched Ogawa’s face, according to officials.
The relatives of Shinsuke Hashida, 61, arrived in Kuwait from Japan on Saturday, along with those of Ogawa. But the Japanese government plans to keep the recovered body believed to be his in Iraq for the time being as it will try to identify the body through dental records and DNA tests.
Hashida, Ogawa, their driver and their interpreter were attacked Thursday by gunmen while traveling through Mahmudiyah, about 30 km south of Baghdad. All but the driver are believed dead.
Two severely burned bodies were recovered from inside the vehicle. They are believed to be the remains of Hashida and the interpreter.
The third body, which had a gunshot wound near an eye, was found in Yusufiyah, some 10 km from the attack site. It was identified as Ogawa’s.
Local police have suggested that he may have been shot dead after the assault.
Government officials handed the belongings of the two that were brought from Baghdad to the relatives, including a burned camcorder believed to be Hashida’s.
A total of five family members of the two were in Kuwait — Hashida’s 50-year-old wife, Yukiko; their son Daisuke, 22; his sister, Yoko, 57, who is also Ogawa’s mother; Ogawa’s father, Hiroshi, 63; and his brother, Shuji, 30.
A forensic dentist and Foreign Ministry staffers accompanied them from Japan to Kuwait, traveling via Bangkok.
While in transit in the Thai capital, they obtained Hashida’s dental records, including X-rays, to be used for identification purposes, Japanese officials said. Hashida lived in Bangkok.