National

HAIR SAMPLES TESTED

Police report Obara-Blackman link

Hair found in a condominium belonging to accused rapist Joji Obara may be that of missing Briton Lucie Blackman, a flight attendant-turned bar hostess who disappeared in July, police said Thursday.

DNA tests indicate that several strands of hair taken from a bathroom in the condominium owned by the 48-year-old Tokyo businessman in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, were Blackman’s, police said.

Tokyo police obtained a DNA sequence believed to be that of Blackman by analyzing hair collected in a Tokyo apartment she lived in and samples of fingernails provided by members of her family in Britain, according to police.

Several of the roughly 20 strands of hair found in the Zushi condominium cannot be ruled out as belonging to Blackman, investigative sources said.

DNA analyses can prove that samples such as hair, nails, skin, bone and blood do not belong to a specific person, but cannot definitely prove they do. DNA analysis for identification purposes is not as accurate as fingerprints.

Obara has been charged with drugging and raping two Caucasian and two Japanese women in the condominium — in 1996, 1997 and 2000. Obara was arrested in October and has told police he met Blackman only once, in late June at a bar in Tokyo’s Roppongi entertainment district where she worked as a hostess.

In the first hearing of two of the rape cases on Dec. 14, Obara pleaded not guilty, claiming the women involved had agreed to have sex with him and he paid them.

Blackman was 21 when she entered Japan as a tourist in early May. On July 1, she called a friend on a cellphone and said she was going to the seaside with a customer from the bar, police said. She has been missing ever since.

Meanwhile, prosecutors indicted Obara later Thursday on charges of drugging and raping one of the two Japanese women in early June, the fourth rape case against him.