Tokyo police admit losing evidence in murder case

Kyodo News

Tokyo police said Friday they have lost four pieces of evidence linked to a 21-year-old cram school student who has been charged with killing his younger sister and dismembering her body in late December.

The items lost are a wooden sword, a saw, a pair of athletic shoes and a sweat shirt, which were seized Jan. 4, the day after the dismembered body of the 20-year-old junior college student was discovered in the suspect’s room at the family’s home in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

Police said they might have mistakenly disposed of the items, which had been kept at the Yoyogi Police Station.

Police stored the items at the police station Jan. 5 after taking them to the scene of the crime for investigative purposes that day.

The items were discovered missing Jan. 7, when they were to be sent to experts for examination, police said.

On Monday, prosecutors indicted Yuki Muto for allegedly suffocating his sister, Azumi, with a towel and submerging her head in bath water while she was unconscious on the afternoon of Dec. 30 before dismembering her body.

Akira Mitsuzane, the Metropolitan Police Department’s chief investigator of murders and robberies, said he deeply regrets the loss of the evidence, which he said were key items in helping to establish the crime.

Shuji Iwamura, deputy chief of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office, also said he regretted the evidence had been lost.

Iwamura said that losing the items could affect the outcome of Muto’s case, however “the prosecution will make best efforts to win a right decision” in court.