Cops hand Ichihashi over to prosecutors

Kyodo

Tatsuya Ichihashi, suspected in the murder of English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker, was sent to prosecutors Thursday.

Ichihashi, 30, was turned over to the Chiba District Public Prosecutor’s Office by Gyotoku Police Station in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, technically on suspicion of abandoning Hawker’s body in a sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of his Ichikawa apartment in March 2007.

Hawker, a 22-year-old British woman, worked for the Nova language-school company. She is believed to have died from suffocation, possibly by strangulation, and numerous marks on her face indicated she had been beaten, according to the police.

As of Thursday afternoon, Ichihashi had remained silent about the allegations against him and about his life on the run for more than 2 1/2 years.

After arriving early Wednesday at Gyotoku Police Station following his arrest Tuesday, he had not eaten anything, only drinking some green tea, the sources said.

Blackman’s advice

LONDON (Kyodo) The father of slain Tokyo hostess Lucie Blackman warned the family of murdered English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker on Wednesday of the “long” legal process ahead of them.

Writing in The Independent newspaper, Tim Blackman said he was “happy” to see the suspect in Hawker’s murder arrested but added that many challenges lay ahead for her parents, Bill and Julia.

“I can understand how they feel that the arrest of the main suspect in Lindsay’s murder achieves some justice. But a long process awaits them, both in dealing with the Japanese justice system and their own grieving process,” he wrote.

Blackman said the news of Tatsuya Ichihashi’s arrest Tuesday would cause the Hawkers to revisit all the “trauma and tragedy” of the murder in March 2007, when Hawker’s body was found at Ichihashi’s apartment in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture.

“The judicial process that lies ahead is time-consuming,” he wrote. “Between the arrest and (2008) sentencing of Joji Obara (for Lucie Blackman’s 2000 kidnapping, and the dismemberment and dumping of her corpse), it took seven years and his appeal is still ongoing.”

Blackman described his daughter’s slaying as “life-changing” and said the Hawkers would be dealing with their daughter’s murder for many more years to come.

“On the one hand, the judicial process keeps the trauma alive and the sorrow at the loss of a child at the forefront of your mind,” Blackman wrote. “But you are also keeping going your relationship with your child and, in some way, helping her in that search for justice.”

Blackman has set up a charitable trust to assist other parents whose kids go missing or are murdered overseas.

Blackman said, “Through this work, I feel that Lucie’s death is not pointless, that it is in some way contributing to the benefit of others.”

Obara was given a life term for drugging and raping nine other women, including Australian Carita Ridgeway, who died.