Aratani’s body brought back from Algeria

Exec's death tied to insider plot; JGC employee remains missing

Kyodo, JIJI

The body of the 10th Japanese killed during the hostage crisis in Algeria arrived in Japan on Saturday, a day after the bodies of the nine other victims were returned with the seven survivors.

The body of Tadanori Aratani, 66, a former vice president of engineering firm JGC Corp. and its top adviser at the time, arrived at Narita airport near Tokyo aboard a commercial aircraft.

The identity of Aratani, who oversaw resources development projects in Algeria and other countries and made regular visits to the gas field complex attacked by Islamic militants at Ain Amenas, was confirmed by initials carved into his ring.

Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Minoru Kiuchi, who had been in Algeria to locate Aratani, was also on the plane.

After being briefed by Kiuchi, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters he was angry about the terrorist attack.

“It is truly regrettable that the precious lives of Japanese people were lost due to the Algerian government’s military operation,” Abe said.

“At the same time, I learned that they paid the utmost consideration to the victims in implementing the operation. I hope they will cooperate with us in investigating the case,” he said.

Aratani had flown to Ain Amenas to meet with JGC’s clients. His death, according to foreign news reports, points to the possibility that insiders helped organize the well-planned raid.

The gas plant in eastern Algeria, where JGC, known as Nikki in Japanese, was hired to build facilities, was taken over on Jan. 16 and resulted in the capture of dozens of hostages.

Algerian forces attacked the site over the next few days, resulting in the deaths of 37 hostages from eight countries and 29 militants.

In addition to the 10 Japanese, six foreign personnel who were working for the company there were also killed and another foreigner remains unaccounted for.

Following the return of the first nine bodies Friday, the Kanagawa Prefectural Police department carried out autopsies to determine their causes of death. But the police will not publicly disclose its findings to avoid traumatizing the families, a senior police official said.

The Kanagawa police have opened an investigation into alleged murder, abduction and confinement under a Japanese Penal Code provision that allows authorities to investigate criminal offenses committed against Japanese overseas.

The police plan to probe the attack and how the victims were killed, based on the results of the autopsies and testimonies from the survivors.

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