• Kyodo

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Senior officials from Tochigi Prefectural Police on Saturday visited the parents of a 19-year-old youth who was lynched last December by a group of teenagers and apologized for failing to launch an investigation before the killing.

During their visit to the youth’s home, in the town of Kurobane, the officials admitted that police had failed to open an investigation before Masakazu Sudo was killed and offered an apology.

Sudo’s parents said they will decide whether to accept the apology after thoroughly examining the contents of the police report detailing why and how law-enforcement officers failed.

The Sudos asked the prefectural police last month to look into why officers at Ishibashi Police Station failed to act on their request for an investigation immediately after they reported that their son had been abducted.

Sudo was forced into a car by a group of teenagers on Dec. 2 and later strangled in a wooded area near the town of Ichikai, Tochigi Prefecture, according to police.

The boys had been targeting the victim since October, assaulting him and forcing him to take out loans of over 7 million yen which he handed over to his tormentors.

When the parents filed the abduction report, an officer at the police station was quoted as telling them that the “police will not act unless it becomes a criminal case.”

The family’s lawyer said Tochigi police may not have acted promptly because one of the boys who played a key role in the killing was the son of an assistant inspector with the prefectural police.

Tochigi police announced last week that they have decided to reprimand a senior policeman in charge of handling the initial request for an investigation and several other officers involved in the case.

The Tochigi incident is the latest in a spate of failures by the police to properly handle requests from crime victims, sources said.

A female student was stabbed to death last October in Okegawa, Saitama Prefecture, by friends of her former boyfriend, despite the fact that her family had filed a complaint with police that he was stalking her.

A group of teenagers was arrested earlier this month in Nagoya for allegedly extorting more than 55 million yen in cash from a 15-year-old boy.

The victim’s mother had asked police to put an end to the extortion, but assistance was slow in coming, the sources said.